LONDON - Japan won its fifth swimming bronze of the London Olympics as Takeshi Matsuda again took third in the men’s 200-meter butterfly Tuesday.
Matsuda also won a bronze at the last Olympics in Beijing. The five medals Japan has won in the pool here already tie the tally it had in swimming four years ago.
“A lot went through my mind,” said Matsuda, the Japan team captain who touched the wall in 1 minute, 53.21 seconds — 0.25 behind gold medalist Chad le Clos of South Africa.
“I thought my time was good, and I thought I had my best race since Beijing. But I was less than 0.3 seconds away from a gold, which is pretty tough to accept.”
“Hearing how loud the crowd was, I could tell the race was close. I felt good throughout the race which was the most important thing to me. I wasn’t worried about my time.”
Michael Phelps tried again to become the first man to win the same swimming event at three straight Olympics but settled for silver. He finished 0.05 after le Clos.
The silver, nevertheless, gave Phelps a combined total of 19 medals from four Summer Games, making him the most successful Olympian of all time.
“It shows that hard work does pay off,” Phelps said. “There are a lot of emotions going through my head right now. There are still other races and that’s the one thing I have on my mind.”
“The biggest thing I said is anything is possible. This has been an amazing ride. It was emotional. It’s a pretty cool feeling, a great way to end the night.”
“I’m going to attempt to sleep tonight.”
The 28-year-old Matsuda tipped his cap to Phelps, who he has been chasing throughout his career and likely met for the last time.
“He may have been second but his career has been nothing short of phenomenal, and today won’t change that,” Matsuda said. “One of the reasons I’ve been swimming is because I’ve been trying to beat him.”
“He’s been a huge source of motivation for me.”
Matsuda, Phelps and le Clos finished comfortably ahead of Dinko Jukic, who was 1.39 seconds out of third. The last lap turned out to be a three-horse race, with le Clos edging Phelps by a touch.
“I knew the race would come down to the last 50 meters,” Matsuda said. “I felt great during warm-ups, the best I’ve felt in four years.”
“Of course, it would’ve been nice to have moved up on the podium. But these last four years, I wasn’t sure I’d even get this far at one point.”
“I couldn’t have made it back without the support of so many people. I couldn’t have won this bronze without them so this one’s for everyone who helped me out along the way.”