Unstoppable Phelps bags 6th Olympic gold

Updated: 22 August 2008 09:10 IST

Michael Phelps won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics on Friday in record time in the 200-meter individual medley.


Michael Phelps made it 6-for-6 at the Beijing Olympics, winning another gold medal on Friday and closing in on Mark Spitz with another world record.

Phelps dominated right from the start of the 200-meter individual medley and won in 1 minute, 54.23 seconds. He knocked off his own mark of 1:54.80 set at last month's US trials, his sixth world record of the games.

Ryan Lochte tried to pull off a daunting double, going against Phelps just 29 minutes after swimming the final of the 200 backstroke.

Lochte couldn't keep up, though he did hold on for bronze. Laszlo Cseh of Hungary picked up his third silver of the games all of them trailing Phelps.

Phelps is already the most successful athlete in Olympic history with 12 career golds, but his sights are on eight in the Beijing games. He is just one gold away from tying Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

He hung on the lane rope in a familiar pose, admiring his time while his rivals gasped for breath. He extended his right hand to Lochte in the next lane, and the two friends shook hands and patted each other on the head.

Phelps returned right after the medal ceremony for the 100 butterfly semifinals.

"I switched from my dress sweats to my parka, shoes, threw my cap and goggles on and then they pushed us on out. No time," he said. "The medal was in my warmup jacket."

A half-hour after winning another gold, Phelps was second fastest behind Milorad Cavic of Croatia in the 100 fly, setting himself up to tie Spitz's record in Saturday's final.

World record-holder Ian Crocker of the US bounced back from a disappointing swim in the prelims to post the third-fastest time.

"There wasn't much time," Phelps said, "but I think there's going to be a lot of time for me to rest over the next 18 hours or so, and I'll be able to be ready for tomorrow morning's 100."

If all goes according to plan, Phelps will get gold No. 7 in the fly, his signature stroke and have the coronation on Sunday in the 400 medley relay. The Americans are always heavily favored for gold in that one.

He is taking nothing for granted, especially in the fly.

"It's definitely a tough race," he said. "With (Cavic) and Ian having a great semifinal, it's going to be a good race tomorrow. I'm going to do everything I can to be a little bit closer in the first 50. ... and hopefully if I'm there at the 50, I'll be there at the finish."

Lochte got quite a consolation prize: a world record and the first individual gold medal of his career in the backstroke. He edged teammate Aaron Peirsol in 1:53.94 to break the mark he shared with Peirsol.

"I touched the wall and was like, 'Thank you, finally,'" Lochte said. "It felt good the whole way."

Lochte was known as "Mr. Runner-up" for his frequent second-place finishes to Phelps and Peirsol. Then, he stunned Peirsol at last year's world championships in 1:54.32, before Peirsol matched the time in beating Lochte at the US Olympic trials last month.

Lochte won despite a problem with his LZR Racer suit.

"My suit came undone after the first 50," he said. "I was just trying to control my legs."

Peirsol won the 100 back in Beijing, but failed to match his backstroke double from Athens four years ago. He earned the silver in 1:54.33, while Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin claimed the bronze.

"That's the theme of the meet. You have to break a world record to win," Peirsol said. "I gave it my all and I had nothing left.

"I'm very proud of what I've done. Ryan swam well. He earned it."

Rebecca Soni gave the US women's swim team a much-needed boost, setting a world record in the 200 breaststroke with an upset of Australia's Leisel Jones.

Soni had already claimed a surprising silver behind Jones in the 100 breast, a race she wasn't even supposed to be in. She took over when Jessica Hardy failed a doping test at the U.S. trials and was dropped from the team.

Jones was out front over the first 100, but Soni came on strong at the end, finishing a full body length ahead of the Australian in 2:20.22. She beat Jones' mark of 2:20.54, set two 2 years ago in Melbourne.

Soni's victory came about 14 hours after American distance hopes Katie Hoff and Kate Ziegler failed to make the final of the 800 freestyle, and two summers after Soni underwent a minor heart operation.

"It's been a long road to get here, and I really can't believe that just happened," she said. "I just stayed strong and relaxed and just raced my own race, turned my mind off."

Jones claimed silver and Norway's Sara Nordenstam took bronze.

"I really couldn't breathe that last 50. I was just digging deep and couldn't breathe," Jones said. "A silver medal is still a silver medal in the Olympics. I gave it everything, I couldn't have given more."

Britta Steffen of Germany won the 100 freestyle, edging Australia's Libby Trickett by four-hundredths of a second. American Natalie Coughlin claimed the bronze for her fifth medal of these games, matching her haul from Athens with the medley relay still to go.

Steffen won in an Olympic-record 53.12.

Phelps' win was the 21st world record set in swimming during the Olympics, with two days left.

Topics : Swimming
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