Giant on the move
Michael Phelps completed his record-breaking haul of eight gold medals at one Games on Sunday, beating fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven from Munich in 1972.
This one was never in much doubt — in stark contrast to the ‘fingernail’ win in yesterday’s butterfly — as he and his American team won the 4 x 100 metres medley relay comfortably. It took his overall tally to 14 from two Games.
He was already the athlete with most Olympic gold medals; now he has overtaken Spitz’s record too.
Not everyone may regard him as the greatest Olympian ever, but this was surely the greatest single feat at one Games.
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.
If anyone at this Games could be forgiven for being a little bit conceited, a touch arrogant or slightly dismissive of his opponents then it surely would be Michael Phelps. Six races, six gold medals, six world records — it must be hard to keep your feet on the ground.
The reality is that having watched Phelps close-up this week, both poolside and in the press conference room, there isn’t the slightest whiff of arrogance about him. Even when provoked, by a reporter’s question about doping for example, he remains calm and respectful giving a sensible answer.
Michael Phelps made light of goggle trouble to claim his fourth gold medal of the Games and then helped his American team win the 4 x 100 m freestyle and make it five wins from five, in fact five world records from five, at these Games.
He now has 11 Olympic gold medals, which puts clear blue water between him and four athletes who have won nine.
There was never any doubt about this one. Michael Phelps won the 200m freestyle, secured his third gold medal of these Games — his third world record, too — and become only the fifth athlete to win nine gold medals at the Summer Olympics.
He joins fellow Americans Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi and Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina at the top of the all-time list of gold medal winners.
Michael Phelps shattered his own world record to win the 400m individual swimming medley in four minutes 03.84 seconds and claim the first of what could be a record-breaking haul of eight gold medals.
The American swimmer, who won six golds at the last Olympics in Athens, has his sights on beating the record of seven golds bagged by Mark Spitz in 1972. The secondary target is four golds to take him ahead of Spitz, Carl Lewis, Finnish middle and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina, the former Soviet gymnast, in the list of athletes with the most gold medals at the Olympics (currently nine).