Jackie Gingrich Cushman

"I glided into the wall, that's a decision I made, and I'm not going to make excuses. Sometimes in practice I have been lazy at the wall, and I made that decision and I'm ok with it," said Phelps. "Chad is a very hungry kid, and he got his hand on the wall first. It was a little frustrating, but I had to put it behind me. I didn't want to let (the relay) team down."

Le Clos, who had long watched Phelps and who had studied the 2008 finish, was thrilled and surprised with his win.

"It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy. I just wanted to race Phelps in the final, and I've beaten him. I have beaten the greatest swimmer of all time. I can't believe it," said le Clos. "Phelps is my hero, and I love the guy. To beat him, I can't believe it. You don't understand what this means to me. This is the greatest moment of my life."

For Phelps, redemption came in the form of the 4x200 free-style event. He served as the anchor of the U.S. team, which won the gold medal. This gave him his 15th career gold and 19th medal overall.

Phelps is now the athlete with the most medals in Olympic history.

Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who earned 18 medals from 1956 to 1964, had held the record for 48 years.

While neither Olympic athlete reached their full potential in their individual events, they both helped their Team USA to win the gold.

May their stories of individual failings, followed by superior team performance, inspire us today.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.