Phelps' reward for doing his best turned out to be another Olympic medal and although it was not the gold one he had wanted it moved him within one of tying a record that has stood for 48 years.
Neither Angel nor Phelps were in the Olympic swimming pool at the same time Sunday, but they both played a big part in a dramatic reprise of one of the most compelling events of the Beijing Games four years ago.
The same countries filled the starring roles as they did in China, but the result was different.
The men's 400-meter freestyle relay turned out to be the highlight event on a typical drama-filled Olympic day.
Kimberly Rhode became the first American to win a medal in five straight Olympics, South Korean women archers won their seventh team gold medal in as many tries, America's Dana Vollmer set a world record in the pool and a weightlifter from North Korea who was not considered ready for prime time defeated a two-time world champion.
Of the 14 gold medals awarded Sunday, China, the United States, North Korea and France all won two. That leaves the Chinese with six golds in the first two days of the Olympics, twice as many as anybody else.
China and the United States both claimed six medals each overall Sunday, leaving China with 12 and the Americans with 11.
The 44 total medals handed out Sunday were shared by 22 countries, including Moldova, Georgia, Taiwan and Azerbaijan. The host nation won its first two medals of the Games, a silver and bronze.
Perhaps the most riveting performance of the day, however, came from Angel, who swam the anchor leg of the freestyle relay for France.
Phelps swam second for the United States, the Olympic gold medal record holder having much to prove after finishing fourth in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday.
He showed he was not ready to retire yet when he pulled away from the field during the relay and gave the United States a sizable lead heading into the second half of the race.
That lead had been reduced by the time Ryan Lochte jumped in the water for the United States 24 hours after he had won the race in which Phelps had finished fourth. Over the next 100 meters, Lochte was caught and passed by Angel, who won the gold medal for his team by almost half a second.
In the freestyle relay four years ago, American Jason Lezak nipped France's Alain Bernard at the wall by 0.08 of a second to win the gold. Without that victory, Phelps would have had to have settled for seven gold medals instead of his record eight.
The medal Phelps won for the second-place finish Sunday was the 17th of his career. He needs one more in his other five events at these Olympics to equal the record held by gymnast Larysa Latynina.
Rhode won the women's skeet shooting competition, giving her three gold and two silver medals over the last five Olympics. She missed one target out of 100 in tying a world record.
Women's team archery has been contested seven times at the Olympics and the South Koreans have won every time. They edged China by a single point in a dramatic final.
Vollmer became the first woman in history to swim the 100-meter butterfly in less than 56 seconds to back up the world title she won last year, bringing the United States is only gold medal in the pool Sunday.
And Yun Chol Om of North Korea won gold in the men's 56-kilogram class of weightlifting while competing in the so-called "B" final that is reserved for competitors not considered good enough to challenge for a medal.
The combined weight total he lifted was three times more than he weighs and he became only the fifth person ever to do that. Two-time defending champion Wu Jingbiao was runner-up.