World records abound as Phelps makes Olympic history (Roundup)
Aug 13, 2008, 13:53 GMT
Michael Phelps of the US butterflys to become the most successful Olympian in history during his world record breaking win in 1:52.03 in the mens 200m butterfly final at the 2008 Olympics at the National Aquatic Center in Beijing, China, 13 August 2008. EPA/KAY NIETFELD
Beijing - Michael Phelps rewrote the Olympic record books Wednesday as he won two more gold medals in the pool to take his tally to 11 while six more world records fell in a remarkable day of swimming at the National Aquatic Centre in Beijing.
Phelps was also responsible for two of those new world-best marks on his way to becoming the athlete with the highest number of gold medals in Olympic history.
The 23-year-old American became the all-time leading Olympian in a world record time in the men's 200-metre butterfly, and then also led the US 4x200m 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 netted a further 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. Spitz holds the current record with seven from the 1972 Munich Games.
Phelps' 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 the American's 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 4x200m 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 said that the realization 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 in 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's 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, meaning all three medallists were faster then the old record.
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.
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.
In the evening's heats, Phelps eased into the semi-finals of the men's 200m medley, although he had only the sixth-fastest time overall.
The highlights of the session were an Olympic record-breaking swim by Rebecca Soni in the women's 200m breaststroke and a similar achievement by France in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.
Soni won her heat in a time of 2 minutes 22.17 seconds, qualifying in a faster time than Australian world record holder Leisel Jones and beating the previous best Olympic mark of 2:23.37 minutes set by compatriot Amanda Beard in Athens on August 19, 2004.
Beard failed to make the list of 16 for the semis after registering the 18th fastest time.
The French relay team set a new Olympic best mark of 7:50.37 in qualifying for the final, beating the previous best mark of 7:53.42, set by the US at the Athens Games on August 18, 2004, by over three seconds. The US, Italy, China and Australia all also safely qualified for Thursday's final.
Joint world record holders Aaron Piersol and Ryan Lochte of the United States both easily qualified for the semi-finals of the men's 200-metre backstroke.
Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppala was the fastest qualifier for the semis of the women's 100m freestyle with a time of 53.60 seconds while American Natalie Coughlin beat world record holder Lisbeth Trickett of Australia in her heat, swimming a time of 53.82, but both comfortably qualified.