First lead: Eighth win for Phelps; four golds for Britain and China

August 17th, 2008 - 8:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 17 (DPA) US swimming great Michael Phelps made history Sunday when he won his eighth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics to eclipse the 36-year-old record of compatriot Mark Spitz. Germany’s Britta Steffen won her second gold in the final day of swimming competition and out of the pool China and Great Britain both won four golds. Constantina Tomescu of Romania won the women’s marathon.

Phelps’ eighth gold, achieved with the US men’s 4×100m medley team in world record time, saw him become the most successful athlete at an Olympic Games, breaking Spitz’s record of seven golds at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The US finished ahead of Australia and Japan in a time of 3:29.34 in what was the 25th swimming world record to fall at these games.

Earlier, German swimmer Steffen secured the sprint gold double, winning in Olympic record time of 24.06 seconds, a day after winning the 100m freestyle.

Silver went to US veteran Dara Torres, who at 41 had hoped to become the oldest swimmer ever to win an Olympic gold.

Her time of 24.07 seconds, was just one-hundredth slower than Steffen. Australian Cate Campbell took bronze.

Tunisian Oussama Mellouli denied Australian Grant Hackett a place in the history books as he won the Olympic gold medal in the men’s 1,500m freestyle in a time of 14 minutes 40.84 seconds.

Hackett was attempting to become the first swimmer to win the 1,500m three times in a row. He won silver in 14:41.53, while Canadian Ryan Cochrane took bronze in 14:42.69.

Mellouli only returned from a lengthy doping ban earlier this year after having lost the gold and silver medal he won at the world championships in Melbourne in 2007.

The Australian women’s 4×100m medley relay team also won gold shaving 3.05 seconds off their own world record when they won in 3:52.69, ahead of the US and China.

China stayed out in front of the overall medals table with four more golds. Wang Jiao won the women’s freestyle wrestling 72kg class, its women’s Quadruple Sculls rowing team triumphed, Qiu Jian won the men’s Shooting 50m Rifle 3 Positions and Zou Kai took gold in the men’s Gymnastics Artistic Floor Exercise.

Great Britain also won four golds to move into fourth place in the medals table.

Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson won the Yngling and Ben Ainslie was successful in the Finn class. Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter then won the men’s rowing lightweight double sculls and Rebecca Romero took gold in cycling.

The first althletics gold medal of the day went to marathon runner Tomescu ,38, who ran away from her rivals at the halfway mark and never looked back en route to victory in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds.

The reigning world champion Catherine Ndereba of Kenya took silver, as she did in Athens four years ago, while bronze went to China’s Zhou Chunxi in 2:27.07.

Meanwhile in the fifth doping case of the Games, Olympic 400- metres hurdles champion Fani Halkia of Greece tested positive for steroids just hours before she was due to compete.

Greek Olympic officials said Halkia was on her way back home after she was caught at an out-of-competition test Aug 10 using the banned substance methyltrienolone.

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