Michael Phelps reacts after he and his teammates were upset by the French in the men's 4 x 100m freestyle relay final at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 29, 2012. The US took silver in the event. By Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.
Update from a reader:
Sorry to be picky, but the media's desire to create a story overlooks the fact that the conventional wisdom, which was adhered to by NBC sportscasters right up until the final, was that the Australian team was by far the favorite and on paper the Americans had little chance of winning a gold medal. But because the result was the opposite of the 2008 event, when the Americans beat the expected favorite French, the media now is insisting somehow the American team led by Phelps dashed expectations. If the Australians had won, I doubt we'd be hearing anything about an upset. Once the established meme takes hold, even in the sports world, it's hard to get perspective on what really happened.
So the real story in the 400×100 relay is that the heavy favorite Australians did not medal at all.