Phelps set to become most successful Olympian in history

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Michael Phelps isn’t expected to dominate the men’s swimming to the same extent that he did in Beijing four years ago – but he should still make all the headlines.

The American currently has 16 Olympic medals – 14 of them gold – and needs just three more of any colour to become the most decorated Olympian of all time.

The current record is held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina who had 18 medals draped around her neck between 1956 and 1964, although just nine of hers were gold.

Phelps faces much stiffer competition than at Beijing though and the star in the pool is expected to be fellow American and friend of Phelps, Ryan Lochte.

However, while Lochte looks likely to come out on top in several disciplines, Phelps still has the upper hand in plenty of areas.

The 27-year-old heads into the 100m butterfly as the big 1/2 favourite and should be able to dispatch the rest of the field.

He swam under 50 seconds in 2009 to set a new world record for the second time in his career and saw off 6/1 second favourite Milorad Cavic in 2008 – although that was an incredibly close race.

Phelps is an even bigger favourite in the 200m butterfly, where he can only be backed at 1/4 to add to his gold medal haul.

He comfortably won the event in Beijing, setting a new world record in the process, and the only swimmer who can realistically challenge him is Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda who is out at 6/1.

He finished third in 2008 and his PB in the event is 1:52.97 – nearly one second slower than Phelps’ world record time.

With two gold medals looking likely – and a medal of any colour almost guaranteed – in the butterfly events, Phelps looks certain to leave London as the most successful Olympian of all time.

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