US strikes back in pool as Phelps joins Olympic elite with ninth gold
12 August 2008
BEIJING – US superstar Michael Phelps won the 200m freestyle in world record time Tuesday making him only the fifth Olympian in history to have won nine golds.
It was one of three gold medals won by the USA and means Phelps needs just one more from five events to become the all-time record holder in gold medals at the Olympic Games.
Away from the Water Cube China secured the men’s team gold in the artistic gymnastics event and in the women’s synchronised diving to stay top of the overall medals table, while South Korea notched its fifth gold with victory in the 50m pistol.
Phelps, 23, edged closer to his goal of winning eight golds in Beijing by winning the 200m freestyle in 1 minute 42.96 seconds, beating South Korean Park Tae-Hwan (1:44.85) and American Peter Vanderkaay (1:45.14) into second place and third place.
He joins Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi, US swimmer Mark Spitz and US athlete Carl Lewis on nine Olympic golds and will be the first to 10 if he wins tomorrow’s 200m butterfly.
He went on to equal the 200m butterfly Olympic record in heats before saying: "I will have plenty of pasta and pizza and then try to get as much rest as I can."
"I am fortunate to have a free session on Tuesday afternoon. Tomorrow is a big morning with two finals."
The other US golds came with Aaron Peirsol winning the men’s 100m breaststroke in world record time and Natalie Coughlin winning the women’s 100m backstroke.
Coughlin, who was in tears as she received her gold medal, said that she could not believe she had won.
"It hasn’t really sunk in yet. When I first saw the time I thought they had made a mistake. It was a very fast time. When I saw the one by my name I thought they had made a mistake. Then I saw my name there and I realised that I’d got it."
Australian Leisel Jones set an Olympic record when she won the 100m breaststroke and Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry set an Olympic record in the semi-finals of the women’s 200m individual medley.
Meanwhile China stayed top of the medal table with gold for Wang Xin and Chen Ruolin in the women’s synchronised 10m platform dive and in the men’s team artistic gymnastics event.
The host nation finished well clear of the rest of the eight-man field at the National Indoor Stadium with a winning points total of 286.125 for the six disciplines.
Japan finished a distant second on 278.875, while the United States beat off the challenge of Germany to take bronze thanks to a score of 275.850.
In shooting, South Korea’s Jin Jong Oh improved on his 2004 silver by winning the Olympic pistol competition and the US’s Walton Eller won the men’s Double Trap.
[dpa / Expatica]
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