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Sakai wins silver in 200 butterfly; Phelps claims 20th Olympic gold

Masato Sakai competes to win the silver medal in the men's 200-meter butterfly at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, on Aug. 9, 2016. (Mainichi Photo/Naotsune Umemura)

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Japan's Masato Sakai won the silver medal in the men's 200-meter butterfly at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Aug, 9, 2016, just four hundredths of a second behind first-placed Michael Phelps of the United States.

    Sakai finished the race in 1 minute, 53.40 seconds, while Phelps finished with a time of 1:53.36 to claim his 20th Olympic gold medal. Hungary's Tamas Kenderesi earned the bronze medal with a time of 1:53.62.

    Japan's Daiya Seto, who won a bronze medal in the men's 400-meter medley on Day 2, came in fifth with a time of 1:54.82.

    Sakai conserved his energy in the first 50 meters of the race, remaining in fifth place as this year's No. 1 ranked swimmer, Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, took the lead. At the 100- and 150-meter turning points, Sakai was sixth. Then he turned on the power and ended up in a battle for the win with Phelps, swimming strongly.

    After studying at a high school in Fukuoka, Sakai entered Waseda University. He followed in the steps of Seto, who was a year ahead of him. Last summer he took part in a high-altitude training camp with Seto. While learning about top-ranking swimmers' approach to competition, his times got better and better, and he finished fourth in the final of the men's 200-meter butterfly at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, securing his place as a top swimmer.

    Sakai is 181 centimeters tall, weighs 72 kilograms, and has good flexibility. He studied up on nutrition after earning a berth on the Japanese Olympic team, and managed to cut his weight down and feel lighter.

    Sakai once remarked, "You can't win a medal if you don't aim for the top." Chasing after Phelps, he managed to snare silver.

    Japan's Masato Sakai, top, celebrates after winning the silver medal in the men's 200-meter butterfly at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, on Aug. 9, 2016. (Mainichi Photo/Masahiro Ogawa)

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