Chad Le Clos of South Africa has beaten Michael Phelps in the 200-meter butterfly finals, ending the American swimming star's Olympic reign in what was dubbed his "signature event."
Phelps, 27, had been trying to become the first man to win an Olympic swimming event three times in a row, having previously won gold in Beijing and Athens, and today he led throughout the race.
But Le Clos, 20, edged out Phelps on the final stroke, winning in one minute 1:52.96 seconds, just 0.05 seconds ahead of Phelps, who came in at 1:53.01. Japan's Takeshi Matsuda placed third.
"That's been my dream ever since I was a little boy," Le Clos, who grew up in Durban, South Africa, told BBC Sport.
"Michael is my hero," he said. "I just wanted to race in the final and now I've won it. I can't believe it, I really can't."
By winning the silver medal, Phelps tied the record of most successful Olympian with 18 medals, later taking the record from Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina with a gold in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay.
Le Clos tweeted after the race:
Hi Everyone thank you,thank you and thank you. I cannot express how i feel.
— Chad Le Clos (@LeClos_Swim) July 31, 2012
Phelps graciously congratulated Le Clos on his Twitter account:
Can't express enough about the amazing swim the @leclos_swim had tonight in the 200fly!! Well done kid!!!
— Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) July 31, 2012
South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who won the country's first gold medal in London on Sunday night, wrote:
CHAD LE CLOS!!!!!!!! WHAT A FINISH!!!
— Cameron van der Burg (@Cameronvdburgh) July 31, 2012
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