Changing China

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Heroic Phelps equals Spitz record (Update x2)

August 16, 2008

Phelps record

Michael Phelps joined Mark Spitz at the highest peak of Olympic achievement on Saturday when his final, desperate lunge for the board brought him victory in the 100m butterfly by the thinnest possible margin and gave him his seventh gold medal at these Games — after an official protest from Serbia was rejected.

Milorad Cavic of Serbia appeared to have the gold tied up until Phelps’s perfect timing saw him home by one hundredth of a second. That is as precise as the timekeeping goes but if anything it looked less than that and shortly after the race Serbia protested the result.

That was rejected a few minutes later, confirming the seventh gold for Phelps.

 ”I actually thought when I did take that half stroke I thought I had lost the race right there, but I guess that was the difference in the end,” Phelps told reporters after the race but before the protest was launched.

“The last two Olympics I have been able to nail my finishes, I’m happy and at a loss for words but excited.”

Spitz is the only other man to have achieved the feat of seven golds at a single Games, back in Munich in 1972. Phelps will go clear of him on Sunday if, as expected, he joins his American team mates in winning the 4×100 medley relay.

NOTE: This post was updated following the Serbia protest and again after it was rejected. I also reworded it to make it clear it was the Serbia team who protested.

PHOTO: Michael Phelps of the U.S. celebrates after winning the men’s 100m butterfly swimming final at the National Aquatics Center during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 16, 2008. REUTERS/David Gray


Greatest. Olympian. Ever.

Posted by jf | Report as abusive

That may be still up for debate but if he makes it eight I think you cld say it’s the greatest performance at a single Games. Not bad to be going on with…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Phelps is more than an amazing swimmer, but it was obvious to me that he didn’t win the 100 m butterfly. Cavic did a “light touch” ahead of Phelps. The result was challenged, but the judges weren’t about to overturn a result that close; especially when such a decision would’ve been a major distraction for the Beijing Olympics. I’m sure this issue will grow over the next few days as people analyze the tapes.

Posted by C. Scot | Report as abusive

Olympics spirit is under question !!!
Phelps is really the best ever but it was obvious that Cavic beat him, watch the race again and than make a judgment

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

It did look mighty close, and I’ve updated the post to take in the protest, which is now being considered. More as soon as we know it.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

The protest was rejected by FINA, Kevin.

Posted by Gary Landis | Report as abusive

Hi Gary and thanks. Was trying to find a story to link to but sadly our website doesn’t update quite so rapidly as the Fast Alert Terminals the financial traders all get. Will udpate again with links when I can get them.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I just spoke with someone who is a former international swimmer and current swim meet official and she is adament that Cavic won the race. She is convinced that it was a light touch by Cavic just ahead of Phelps. It’s sad that Phelps has to get the gold this way. It will forever be tainted.

Posted by C. Scot | Report as abusive

Hi C. Scot. One thing I’m sure of, Phelps would not want to win the gold if it was not fully legit. He’s just not that kind of guy.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

well i think that nobody have no doubts about Phelps sports and moral qualities we just talk about what really hapened and is it necessary to have any doubts about his running for Spitz record
Does it have to be this way??

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

FWIW, I just read that FINA analyzed the overhead camera footage broken down to 1/10000ths of a second, and after seeing that, the Serbians were satisfied that Phelps had won.

Posted by Gary Landis | Report as abusive

Okay; done deal if the result has been thoroughly analyzed by FINA down to 1/1000ths of a second and everyone, including the Serbians, are satisfied. I also want to stress that I wasn’t taking issue with Phelps himself. It’s not his fault the race was almost too close to call. The sad part is the race was a virtual tie and nobody will remember Cavic; such is life.

Posted by C. Scot | Report as abusive

It’s also worth noting that Cavic had apparently requested that the protest be withdrawn even before FINA rejected it. His response to the whole situation was very classy.

Posted by Gary Landis | Report as abusive

Congrats to Phelps and the US. He truly deserves it. He sets new world records in all his swims and is a consistent and solid swimmer. It’s not easy being able to do that and if you are, then you were truly deserving of the medals. This is what defines olympians.


I still think that nobody wants to spoil “the big Phelps heoric Bejing adventure ”
Specialy with USA influence and although the China have nothing aginst that becouse everybody will say that the history was heppened in Bejing…. Serbia and Cavic will be satisfied… and just for the record i watched that down to 1/1000 and i am sure that Cavic had the first touch

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

And i DO think that Phelps is the best ever and probably forever

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

How, pray tell, did you watch that down to 1/1000th when it’s only shown in 1/100ths?

Posted by Gary Landis | Report as abusive

i can do it on my comp

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

Cavic backed down because he’s classy and because he’s smart enough to know his team couldn’t win a protest against the biggest story of the Olympics. Cavic (and the other U.S. swimmer in the race, for that matter) certainly wanted to win, but in the back of his mind, he also probably didn’t want to be the person to spoil the party; Phelps was going to win as long as he came very close.

Posted by C. Scot | Report as abusive

I think I’ll trust FINA over your computer, dusan.

Thanks for the LOL.

Posted by Gary Landis | Report as abusive

just tell r u american gary?

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

than u belive in your mighty administration so i cannot help u sorry

Posted by dusan | Report as abusive

Cavic at first stormed through the mixed zone and later said the technology might have malfunctioned but Gary is right — he didn’t want to protest. He said:

“If it was up to me I would drop the protest, I didn’t want to fight it. It’s a gold medal, it’s difficult to lose but I have to remember my goal here was bronze.”

It must have been difficult to lose a race like tht and I think in the circumstances his attitude was pretty good.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I like him very much!His performances are perfect!

Posted by Maggie | Report as abusive

Phelps is entering a whole new stratosphere of Olympic performance, one occupied very few, an exclusive club of one has just acquired a second member. On hearing of Phelps achievement Mark Spitz said ”I’m just happy to be in the company of Michael Phelps”

But now Phelps has a opportunity to go beyond this territory with 8 Gold’s in a single Games, incredible.

Posted by Neil Barnaby | Report as abusive

I love the photo as well, man. That’s happiness.

Posted by jf | Report as abusive

I recomend bloggers to listen today´s podcast, Julian explains very well how Phelps managed to win today. It was just amazing.

Posted by Estefania | Report as abusive

FINA has reviewed the tape by ten-thousandsth of a second a frame to show that Phelps did indeed touch the wall first. The electronic touchpad confirmed it, the Kenyen referee confirmed it, and even the Serb swimming committee was there to see the tape for themselves. What is there to argue about?

I saw the replay too. At first it appeared as if Cavic touched the wall first but if you take a closer look – he didnt touch it yet, he was just really close to it. When Cavic was gliding Phelps was stroking and when Cavic was just a fingernal away from the wall BOOM! Phelps hands went past Cavic to touch it first. It is almost too close to see but in that last millisecond Phelps’ hands were faster than the Cavic. And that made the difference.

Even if there is a debate it is whether they tied or not and whether there would be 2 winners. In any case Phelps would still have that Gold medal anyway.

Posted by Naomi | Report as abusive

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