History-maker Phelps takes his gold tally to 11

August 13th, 2008 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 13 (DPA) - Michael Phelps Wednesday rewrote the Olympic record books when he won his 10th and 11th gold medals in another awesome swimming session that saw six more world records tumble. He broke two records in the water and the record for the highest number of gold medals won in Olympic history by an individual athlete.

Fittingly the American superstar became the all-time leading Olympian in a world record time in the men’s 200m butterfly, and then also led the US 4×200m relay team into a new dimension in the sport.

Phelps’ 11th gold medal lifted him two clear at the top of the all-time list, past Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi, US swimmer Mark Spitz and US athlete Carl Lewis, who have nine each.

Phelps won six golds 2004 in Athens and has five golds in Beijing from as many races. He is set to compete in three more races at the Games eyeing an unprecedented eight golds at one Games.

His time of 1 minute 52.03 seconds in the 200m butterfly was six hundredths faster than his record set at the world championships in Melbourne last year, and Phelps’ 25th career world record.

Hungarian Laszlo Cseh was second with a European record 1:52.70, while Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda took the bronze in 1:52.97.

Phelps though, said that he was disappointed with his time. “I had water in my goggles and couldn’t see anything. That made it very difficult and I’m disappointed with my time. I know I can go faster.”

Less than an hour after winning the butterfly event, Phelps helped the US 4×200m freestyle relay team become the first team to swim under seven minutes as they took an astonishing 4.68 seconds off their own world record set in Melbourne at the world championships last year.

Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay won in a time of 6:58.56, while Russia took silver in 7:03.70. Australia was third in 7:04.98.

Phelps was — as he had done during the 4×100m freestyle relay on Sunday — urging and encouraging his teammates after having swum the opening leg.

Berens said afterwards that Phelps had told them: “Don’t screw up. And when a guy like Phelps tells you that, you listen.”

Phelps said that the realisation that he had made history left him speechless. “Growing up, all I wanted to do was become an Olympian. And now to be the leading Olympian, well, I suppose that’s a pretty cool title to have.”

Stephanie Rice of Australia got gold in the women’s 200m medley when she just managed to push past Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry on the final metres. The two had already finished in the same order in the 400m IM.

Rice clocked 2:08.45 minutes Coventry got silver in 2:08.59 which was also faster than Rice’ previous world record 2:08.92 from March.

The bronze medal went to Natalie Coughlin of the US in a time of 2:10.34.

Rice said she was very happy with her swim. “I knew that I had to be fast to beat Kirsty. I always seem to have a little bit extra left right at the end and I needed it.”

Earlier in the session, Federica Pellegrini won the women’s 200m freestyle gold with another world record-breaking time. The Italian bettered her record of 1:55.45 from the semi-finals to 1:54.82.

Slovenian Sara Isakovic won an unlikely first-ever swimming medal for her country as she took silver, 0.15 off the pace, while Pang Yiaying was a popular bronze medal winner for the hosts in a time 1:55.05 as all three medallists were faster then the old record.

American favourite Katie Hoff had to be content with fourth place in 1:55.78.

Isakovic said that she had never expected the medal.

“It’s amazing. It’s the first medal for Slovenia swimming, so it’s great for my country. It’s a fantastic time and I never expected it in my wildest dreams. I am going to celebrate with my family and the rest of my team.”

The morning session began with a bang as Frenchman Alain Bernard took back the 100m freestyle world record he had lost two days earlier to Australian Eamon Sullivan. Bernard’s time of 47.20 in the semis shaved 0.04 off Sullivan’s record.

The Australian countered in the next semi-final, when he swam a 47.05 to reclaim the record.

Bernard said he was not surprised that Sullivan had countered so fast. “It’s a high-level competition, so it’s normal. The most important thing is the final tomorrow,” he said.

In the women’s 200m butterfly semis Liu Ziege and Jiao Liuyang had the first and third-fastest time respectively, with Jessicah Schipper pushing in between them. Liu had a time of 2:06.25.

In the men’s 200m breaststroke Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima broke the Olympic record that Hungarian Daniel Gyurta had set on Tuesday. Kitajima swam 2:08.61, taking 0.07 off the old record. Canadian Mike Andrew Brown had the second-fastest time with 2:08.84.

There was disappointment for American Eric Shanteau, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer shortly before the US trials, as he went out with the 10th time.

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