American says goodbye to sport after winning five golds and a silver in Rio, taking his total to 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold
Michael Phelps closed out the swimming events at Rio 2016, and bid his own personal farewell to the Olympic Games, in the only way imaginable: with another gold medal.
Having come out of retirement to compete in Rio, the 31-year-old won five golds and a silver at these, his fifth Games. Afterwards, he admitted it had been an emotional night.
"Getting off the bus and walking into the pool tonight, I almost felt myself starting to cry," he said. "Last warm-up, last time putting on a suit, last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country. It's insane. This is how I wanted to finish my career.
"I held back a little bit on the podium but there were some (tears) that were popping down. It just feels good to know that the hard work did pay off and I was able to fight through some of the times that I went through the last two years and get back to where I actually wanted to be."
Ryan Murphy, the double backstroke champion, had given the Americans a spectacular start by breaking the world 100m record on the backstroke leg, clocking 51.85 seconds. It was the eighth and final world record of the week.
After 100m breaststroke bronze medallist Cody Miller was overhauled by world-record holder Adam Peaty of Great Britain, Phelps swam the fastest butterfly leg (50.33) to regain the lead.
He provided Nathan Adrian with a decent lead to bring the USA quartet home on the freestyle leg in an Olympic record of 3:27.95, ahead of Great Britain and Australia.
It was the last of the 32 events at the pool and underlined the USA squad’s remarkable strength in depth as they could celebrate victory in exactly half the finals.
Earlier, the US women’s 4x100m medley team of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel had earned their 15th gold in a convincing manner, clocking 3:53.13 to finish well clear of Australia and Denmark.
The Danes enjoyed a spectacular night with the title of fastest woman in the pool going to surprise 50m freestyle victor Pernille Blume, who sped to victory in 24.07, ahead of Manuel and Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus.
Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri was crowned the marathon man of the pool as he dominated the 1500m final almost from the start, inside world record pace until the last laps when his relentless rhythm finally began to give way to weariness.
He finished in 14:34.57, with Connor Jasper of the USA coming in nearly five seconds adrift but doing enough to hold off compatriot Italy's Gabriele Detti.
Fans say goodbye to Phelps...