Larissa Latinya watched her Olympic record for the most medals swim away on Tuesday as Michael Phelps took over the crown.
Michael Phelps earned his 19th Olympic medal Tuesday during the freestyle relay in which the U.S. team received gold and he took the record. It was previously held by Larissa Latinya, a gymnast from the Soviet Union, who broke the previous record 48 years ago. Unlike many of Phelps' other records that could be taken down with a single race, this one may stick for a while.
Latinya competed in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics. Altogether she won a total of 14 individual medals and four team medals. Afterwards, Latinya went on to become a coach for the Soviet team, during which time the team won team gold three times before she retired in 1977.
Despite a tinge of sadness at handing over the title, Latinya has been magnanimous and even suggested that she herself be able to hand over the crown. The suggestion however, was refused by the International Olympic Committee.
"Latynina had hoped to congratulate Phelps and present him with his record-setting medal," the New York Times reported. "But her daughter and others said that Olympic rules did not allow it."
Latinya admits that Phelps is a reputable opponent.
"He's very talented- no doubt about that," the 77 year-old woman told the Associated Press. "I saw him swim, and I saw my record swim away."
Despite his successful takeover, Phelps has had a less than successful turn at the 2012 Olympics. During the 200 meter butterfly event that took place just before his record steal, Phelps lost the gold to South African Chad Le Clos. The event has been Phelps golden goose since his break out on the Olympic scene; he lost the gold by a fraction of a second.