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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Phelps equals Spitz's 1972 Olympic feat

Michael Phelps matches fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven golds in one Games with yet another victory in the pool. See Special

india Updated: Aug 16, 2008 12:46 IST
Andrew Cawthorne
Andrew Cawthorne

Michael Phelps matched fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven golds in one Games on Saturday with yet another victory in the pool.

Guaranteeing his status as the face of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the 23-year-old Phelps powered to victory in the 100 metres butterfly in front of an ecstatic crowd in the Water Cube with just one hundreth of a second to spare.

The 23-year-old phenomenon now has 13 career golds, four more than anyone else. As well as Olympic glory, Saturday's win brings him a $1 million bonus from sponsors.

On Sunday, Phelps can go one better than Spitz in Munich with a chance for an eighth Beijing gold in the 100m medley relay.

Watched in every race by his mother and cheered to his first wins by President George W. Bush, Phelps' success is down to a combination of natural brilliance, total focus, and the perfect swimmer's physique of large torso and long-reaching arms.

While Phelps again topped the headlines with his seemingly endless procession to the top of the podium, excitement at the Olympics was by no means only about him on Saturday.

The Games' blue riband track race, the 100m sprint, takes place in the evening in front of more than 90,000 people, and millions worldwide, in the Bird's Nest stadium.

The battle to be crowned the world's fastest man looks like a fascinating three-man, two-nation affair.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt seemed in superb form in the heats on Saturday, having time to look around and still win his second round race in the day's best time of 9.92 seconds.

Bolt has burst on to the 100m scene in the last year, shouldering aside American world champion Tyson Gay and fellow Jamaican former world record holder Asafa Powell.

Formerly a 200m specialist, Bolt set a new world best of 9.72 in the 100m in May. He hopes to be the first man to complete the 100m and 200m Olympic double since American Carl Lewis in 1984.

China lead medal table

A new world record looks feasible, given the tall 21-year-old appeared to have so much to spare on Friday. "I looked around to make sure I was safe and I shut it off," he said.

Despite its tradition of producing world class sprinters, Jamaica has yet to win a men's 100m gold and the islanders will be watching tensely at 10.30 pm (1430 GMT).

Powell complained of stomach ache but comfortably won his second heat on Saturday in 10.02 and is still in the hunt for a first global title.

Gay took gold in both the 100m and 200m at the world championships last year but a hamstring injury is restricting him to just the 100m in Beijing.

China lead the gold medal table with 26 to the United States' 14. The hosts came second in Athens 2004 and are eager to go one better in front of their own 1.3 billion people.

China's rise to sporting superpower status reflects its new global economic clout. The Beijing Games are the culmination of its desire to project a new image on the world stage.

Many athletes had expressed concerns over Beijing's pollution problems, but Saturday was a second consecutive gloriously sunny, blue-sky day.

Authorities have pulled several million cars off the road and shut factories to try and guarantee clear air.

Doping again reared its head overnight when Bulgaria's athletics federation said 1,500 metres runner Daniela Yordanova, fifth in Athens in 2004, had been barred from the Olympics after testing positive for testosterone in a sample taken in June.

The 100 metres tops a golden day of sport, with 28 medals being handed out on Saturday. They include the first in the rowing competition and three more in track cycling, where Britain hope for several victories to move up the medal table.

Another gold could come the way of the hosts of the 2012 Olympics if Rebecca Adlington confirms her status as favourite in the 800m freestyle swimming.

After three silvers, Kirsty Coventry finally cheered her native Zimbabwe with a gold in the 200m backstroke.