Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps Achieves 7th Gold Medal by 0.01 Seconds

Michael Phelps beat Milorad Cavic of Serbia to the wall to win the 100-meter butterfly Saturday, tying Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics.

Phelps’s Olympics looking lost, he decided to flap those gangly arms one more time. Cavic, inches from spoiling it all, glided along just under the surface, convinced he had won gold. However, it did not matter who was fastest. Everyone wants to be the first.

Undoubtedly, Phelps swam into history with a magnificent finish Saturday, tying Mark Spitz with his seventh gold medal by the narrowest of margins in the 100-meter butterfly. One-hundredth of a second, the time it takes lightning to strike the ground.

Phelps slapped his hands on the water and let out a scream after the astonishing finish. The crowd at the Water Cube gasped, it looked as though Cavic had won, then roared when the "1" popped up beside the American's name. Cavic's time was 50.59.

The finish was so close the Serbian delegation filed a protest and swimming's governing body had to review the tape down to the 10-thousandth of a second.

Later on, the Serbian delegation filed a protest, but conceded that Phelps won after reviewing the tape provided by FINA, swimming's governing body. Jamie Olson, USA Swimming spokesperson said the tape was slowed to one frame every 10-thousandth of a second to make sure Phelps actually touched first.

With his arms fully outstretched, the American touched in 50.58 seconds, breaking Cavic's Olympic record of 50.76 set in the semifinals. Cavic, who was still in mid-stroke at the wall, took the silver in 50.59, a mere 0.01 seconds behind Phelps. Andrew Lauterstein of Australia earned the bronze in 51.12.

It was the first race of these games in which Phelps did not set a world record. Crocker, the world record-holder, was fourth in 51.13. Phelps won the event four years ago in Athens, and Crocker finished second.

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