SHANGHAI – Takeshi Matsuda came up short in his bid to dethrone Michael Phelps, settling for the silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly at the world swimming championships on Wednesday.
Phelps touched the wall in 1 minute, 53.34 seconds, 0.67 seconds ahead of Matsuda. Wu Peng rounded out the podium for host China in 1:54.67.
Matsuda was 0.05 seconds ahead of Phelps at the final turn, but the multiple Olympic and world champion came on strong in the last 50 meters to pick up his first gold of the Shanghai meet.
“In the run-up to this final, I thought I had a good chance to beat him and I’m disappointed I couldn’t deliver,” Matsuda said. “I guess he was saving himself (for the last 50 meters), and he has the kind of ability to pull it off.
“I don’t know how serious and how much he’s trained after the Beijing Olympics. But I know he’ll be a lot stronger next year. I believe London will be my last Olympics.
“I’ll try to keep improving and not give up on my goal,” he said.
A 14-time Olympic champion, Phelps now has a record 23 golds at worlds.
Phelps had a streak of 60 consecutive wins in this event covering nearly nine years until he lost consecutive races to Wu at two minor meets in the United States earlier this year.
Before going on to race in the individual medley semifinals, Phelps said, “The race felt good. I wanted to do what I usually do when I’m in better shape.”
“I wanted to step on it from the get go. I saw the other swimmer when I was at 150. I put my hips into it. I know there is a lot more I can do in that race.”
Among the day’s other finals at the Oriental Sports Center, Chinese giant Sun Yang won the men’s 800 freestyle -a non-Olympic event — in 7:38.57.
In another non-Olympic race, Brazil’s Felipe Silva beat Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli in the 50 breaststroke, with defending champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa third.
Italy’s Frederica Pellegrini won the 200 freestyle to become the first woman to sweep the 200 and 400 at consecutive world championships.
Australian great Ian Thorpe, who recorded the 200-400 double in 2001 and 2003, is the only other swimmer to achieve the feat.
“You’ve just got to always believe in yourself. It’s great to be a part of history,” said Pellegrini, who is also the Olympic champion in the 200. “This was my race, and nobody was going to enter my house.”
Midway through the eight-day meet, no world records have been set — a sharp contrast from the 43 marks that fell at the last worlds in Rome two years ago, before high-tech bodysuits were banned.
The other three Japanese who swam in the evening session all qualified for their respective finals scheduled for Thursday.
Natsumi Hoshi (2:06.65) was the second-fastest qualifier for the women’s 200 butterfly final.
Yuya Horihata (1:59.54) just managed to advance in the men’s 200 individual medley featuring Phelps and Ryan Lochte, while Aya Terakawa was seventh in the semifinals of the women’s non-Olympic 50 backstroke.