Michael Phelps Death Stare Inspires #PhelpsFace

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Courtesy NBC

Courtesy NBC

The 2016 Rio Olympics may have found its own “McKayla Maroney is not impressed” moment in the form of Michael Phelps’ “death stare.” The 19-time Gold Medal winner was caught on camera clearly unimpressed with the pre-race gyrations of his South African rival Chad le Clos.

The screen-cap of Phelps quickly went viral over social media, leading users to compare the swimmer with Star Wars character Anakin Skywalker and inspiring the hashtag #PhelpsFace. Phelps’ infant son even got into the act, with a photo also going viral of the child seemingly making a similar face.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Phelps has an issue with le Clos, considering the heated history between the two. In 2012, le Clos bested Phelps in the 200m Butterfly event and proceeded to trash-talk the American in the years since.

Last year le Clos told the AP: “I’m just very happy that he’s back to his good form, so he can’t come out and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t been training’ or all that rubbish that he’s been talking. Next year is going to be Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier.”

For his part Phelps seemed motivated by the rivalry, beating le Clos by a full second in Monday night’s heat, setting up a showdown between the two for the Gold Medal on Tuesday.

When asked about le Clos by NBC broadcaster Michele Tafoya after the race, Phelps said, “I was trying to not really even look at him. He does his thing, I do my thing. I was watching the heat in front of me and seeing what they were doing. I’m obviously excited for the final.”

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