Olympics: Unstoppable Michael Phelps wins his seventh gold in Beijing
Michael Phelps is already a legend, as he equaled Mark Spitz' seven-gold mark after winning the 100-meter butterfly by the closest margin at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Saturday.
Indeed, Phelps out-touched runner-up Serbian Milorad Cavic by 0.01 second with an Olympic record time of 50.58 seconds. Australian Andrew Lauterstein got the bronze in 51.12. World record holder Ian Crocker of the United States finished fourth in 51.13.
AS we know, Phelps came upon the deck as the defending Olympic champion. Taking off in lane five, he was about half a body length behind Cavic in the first lap, and was the seventh to touch wall in the first 50 meters. But the 23-year-old superfish splashed ahead in the last 50 meters and earned his seventh gold amid jittery cheers of the spectators.
In fact, the Serbian team filed an official protest to question the result, but race referees and swimming governing body FINA officials insisted the result is valid.
"We must speak up because accoridng to our rules, we used the automatic timing system, which was in perfect condition and perfect order," said head referee Ben Ekumbo.
"We looked at video footage. It was very clear that the Serbian swimmer touched second after the American Michael Phleps. It's evident from the video that it was an issue of stroking. One was stroking and the other was gliding," he said, adding that the Serbian team has accepted the ruling.
Michael Phelps himself was also surprised at the table-turning result. "When I took that last stroke I thought I lost the race there, but it turns out that was the difference," he expressed.
"Beforehand, Bob told me that it would be good for me if I lost. When he said that I was fired up. I said, 'I'm going to go for it'. And when I saw that finish I said 'wow'," he said.
The successful swimmer again screamed after the victory and punched hard at the water. He was so overjoyed that he barely noticed Cavic congratulating him in the pool.
"I must admit that I feel a little bit of everything - relief, excitement, everything. I had to take my goggles off first to make sure the one was next to my name," he said.
With the hard-won gold medal, the amazinge Phelps has removed the biggest obstacle on his way to an unprecedented feat of eight golds at a single Olympics. Phelps' chances of the eighth gold, vested in the 4X100m medley relay, seems a sure bet as the Americans have championed the relay in the last ten Olympics.