Rio 2016 Olympics day three highlight: Phelps face becomes a meme

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Image: Twitter

Image: Twitter

Day 3 of the Olympics is typically every Games’ first real fall off in competition, primarily due to the fact that there aren’t necessarily a ton of “final” matches happening. That being said, there were a few as the Austalian women’s rugby sevens team won the first rugby gold in almost 100 years, and then a handful of other individual swimming heats finished there run as well. But what were the big stories of Day 3? Well, there was an historic marriage proposal, a pool-side grudge match with plenty of trash talking, but then there was the birth of a new meme, so you could probably guess which of those stories wins out in the end.

But what everybody is really talking about today is “Phelps Face.”

Leading up to the men’s individual 200m butterfly semi-final, competitors were sent to wait in the “Ready Room” to wait patiently before their heat began. Members of this particular group included Olympic legend and American hero, Michael Phelps, whose pre-race ritual has become a somewhat storied vision of focus and indomitability. Typically, Phelps elects to preface each race with listening to his rap and EDM-heavy music to properly pump himself up before each race – which is typically a common thing for athletes to do.

The unique aspect to Phelps’ warm up is that he tends to sit idly in the most intense fashion you’ve ever seen, and his face during Day 3 before the 200m butterfly semifinal crowned him King of the Internet for the day. During his pump up, warm up, whatever you want to call it, Phelps sat in the far corner of the “Ready Room,” as other swimmers stood jumping, gyrating, and jolting themselves into a more physically aware state, while Phelps just sat, silent and solitary, visualizing his qualifying finish in the heat (Phelps finished second) and making Phelps Face.

It all seems pretty commonplace for a warm up to a race, but South African swimmer Chad le Clos appeared to be trying to play some sort of mind games with the greatest swimmer ever – shadowboxing and warming up right in front of Phelps – as if to think he could intimidate Phelps into falling short. All the while, Phelps appeared to acknowledge le Clos’ antics with his eyes only, and an absolute fury of focus on the race, every once and a while shooting an Anakin in the Hall of Younglings level-evil eye at le Clos. Ultimately, Phelps beat le Clos, and got a solid meme out of it, too. So there you have it – Day 3’s highlight was the birth of the illustrious Phelps Face.

This article originally appeared as Olympics Day 3 highlight: Phelps Face becomes a meme on

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.

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