Olympics, Swimming: Huge Back Half Gives Michael Phelps Olympic Record in 100 Fly, Matches Mark Spitz With Seven Golds; $1 Million Richer -- August 15, 2008

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 16. HE'S undoubtedly the greatest swimmer in history, and he also has a flair for the dramatic. By the narrowest of margins, Michael Phelps kept alive his chase for eight gold medals by winning the 100 butterfly and taking the breath away from the spectators who stuffed the Water Cube for a glimpse of history.

In seventh place at the 50-meter mark, where he turned in 24.04, Phelps powered through the final lap, making up ground with every stroke on frontrunner Milorad Cavic of Serbia. At the wall, it was Phelps touching in as close a finish as exists, his time of 50.58 just edging the 50.59 turned in by Cavic. Simply, it was an unreal ending.

The finish was similar to 2004 when Phelps closed at the wall and knocked off Ian Crocker for the gold by four hundredths of a second. Now, Phelps will have the chance to go after his eighth gold medal, that piece of hardware hinging on the United States winning the 400 medley relay during the final session of action tomorrow.

"When I had to take an extra half stroke (into the finish), I thought I lost the race," Phelps said. "I took my goggles off to see the No. 1 next to my name. It was then that I saw I won. When someone says you can't do something and say it's impossible to tie (Mark Spitz)..."

Phelps paused for a moment, then shook his head: "Anything is possible," he said.

With the win, Phelps guaranteed himself a $1 million bonus from Speedo. The victory was, however, protested by the Serbian Federation, which claimed Cavic touched ahead of Phelps. After reviewing the finish, FINA upheld the finish.

Cavic deserves significant credit for pushing Phelps as hard as he's been pressured this week. Cavic took the race out quickly, the only strategy that could have paid off with gold. His time was good for a European record and makes him the third-fastest performer in the history of the event, trailing Crocker and Phelps.

The finish for the bronze medal was as tight as the one for gold as Australian Andrew Lauterstein finished in 51.12 to better Ian Crocker (51.13). Kenya's Jason Dunford was fifth in 51.47 and Japan's Takuro Fujii was sixth in 51.50. Ukrainian Andriy Serdinov was seventh in 51.59 and eighth went to Paua New Guinea's Ryan Pini in 51.86.

Results: 2008 Olympic Games - Swimming

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Reaction Time Comments

August 15, 2008 What did Phelps say Cavic said to him? Awesome though!!!
Submitted by: crafto
August 15, 2008 Destiny. That's all you can say about it. Congrats to Crocker on a great career, should he choose to retire. Sometimes, it's just not your year. Your record remains in tact, buddy. No 50.2 here. Congrats to Michael on the best meet anybody has had ever. Wow.
Submitted by: Dizzy1203
August 15, 2008 Now Serbia is filing a protest? On what? Are they saying the pads aren't correct? Pleeeease.
Submitted by: crafto
August 15, 2008 Puts Phelps in the relay, Crocker just didn't have it this year.

Lets see if he can split 50.0 on the relay, to give Lezak a one second lead.
Submitted by: Brasse
August 15, 2008 What an amazing race with all of the drama. That being said Mike Bottom and Cavic are protesting the results. Anyone know the basis for their claim??
Submitted by: teamwiess
August 15, 2008 The basis of their claim is "sour grapes". Rightfully denied.
Submitted by: MJB
August 15, 2008 Phelps said that Cavic said something to him that fired him up before the race. Did anyone hear what it was exactly? I missed it.
Submitted by: crafto
August 15, 2008 Cavic said that it would be good for the sport--and for Phelps--for somebody to beat him.
Submitted by: Dizzy1203
August 15, 2008 Thanks Dizzy. I guess what I don't get is why would Cavic say that? How would it be good for Phelps?
Submitted by: crafto
August 15, 2008 Mike Bottom and crew filing a protest on that race just really made Cavic look bad, even if Cavic has nothing to do with that filing. It just makes him look like a bad loser rather than an Olympic Silver medalist. Touchpads don't lie, and I really don't understand what they thought their basis was for that protest other than Cavic having a great race until he had that slow glide into the wall at the finish to get touched out. Great race though.
Submitted by: FrmrGASwmmr
August 15, 2008 Bunch of swimmers watched the race here - on CBC - from the side view, live, none of us thought Phelps had any chance of touching out Cavic. From overhead, however, and in slow motion, it's amazing - Cavic seems to take forever to get his fingers the last 6 inches to the wall; his head even comes up before he touched. Meanwhile Phelps' arms and hands were 'flying' and he touches first. If the pool were a half foot shorter, Cavic wins. And we all thought the 400 Fr Relay had an exciting finish....
Submitted by: Get the Info
August 15, 2008 I had to watch the slow-mo finish like four times before I could see how Phelps touched him out... Before that, I thought for certain that Cavic got it... That was a looooong glide to the touch by Cavic... Biondi-Nesty anyone? :-0
Submitted by: Hodori88
August 15, 2008 The underwater view is the best. You can definitely tell that Phelps touched first...What an amazing race!! Congratulations to Michael Phelps.
Submitted by: squiggles255
August 15, 2008 I didn't see the race yet. What happened that a protest was filed?????? Did anyone see it???? Is Cavic so bitter not to win that he will come across like an ass to get the gold medal????
Submitted by: paddles
August 15, 2008 Here's a scary thought: What if it was Texas A&M all over again? 49.97 meter pool: Serbian dashes Phelps' hopes for gold medal #7.
Submitted by: lightbulb12
August 15, 2008 What are the odds:
Cavic is the second Cal graduate to have lost the 100 fly final at the Olympics by 0.01. My childhood hero Matt Biondi lost to Anthony Nesty in 1988 because of a similar finish. Biondi is still my hero.
Submitted by: joebob
August 15, 2008 I've meet Mike's Dad quite a few times. Drank beers with him. He's a great guy and so is his son. He had the race just like Biondi in 1988, but got out touched. Tough loss for Mike Cavic and a great win for Mike Phelps.

You make your own luck, and Michael Phelps made his. He had lady luck on his side, but so do all greats like Jordan, T. Woods etc.

Submitted by: wek5000
August 15, 2008 Nesty -Biondi in 1988 was almost this close. Biondi a HUGE favorite. But that last stroke in butterfly has to be perfect.

But many of the swimmers in this Olympics finish while lifting their heads up. Cavic should know better. You always finish underwater and drive your arms past your head, and NEVER lift the head until well past hitting the wall.

At least the high speed cameras overhead showed the officials that Phelps won, why can't they use the many underwater cameras to DQ the cheats???????? They know who has a history of cheating, like Bossini and Kitajima in breaststroke. Bossini even dolphined INTO the turn wall during 2004!
Submitted by: Brasse
August 16, 2008 Wow....what a race!!! Words do not describe.
Fun was that I went to a restaurant with friends to watch it in a fun setting. Never seen a whole restaurant go absolutely balistic for a swimmer/swimming race when Phelps name came up first. The place was going nuts...and there were a lot of people there. That was pretty darn cool!
Not sure in the comments above that Mike Bottom would be the one to file the protest, probably some other official in their delegation.
If it was Bottom, guess the basis of the protest would basically have been that he really wanted to be hated by every single individual on the University of Michigan campus before he even arrived there. How to dig your own grave before you even start a new job. But I bet it wasn't him.
What a race!!!!!
Submitted by: rcoach
August 16, 2008 Coach Mike Bottom DID NOT file the protest.

Some of you guys need to back off a little.
Submitted by: wek5000
August 16, 2008 One more to go. I wonder what the other guys in the medley relay are thinking about being a part of history???? I know they want the gold medal and I HOPE they are mentally ready for the Aussies, but geez, this is history that transcends the boundaries of swimming and sport and goes straight into our world culture. Makes you stop to think if this really is predestined the way everything has gone just right for Michael.....
Submitted by: paddles
August 16, 2008 I really like the comments from Spitz when he told Phelps he hopes he understands the responsibilty that comes with such a moment. He now needs to become 7 (hopefully) 8 time gold medalist that raises swimming up to a higher profile sport in the USA. That translates to more kids in pools, bringing Men's swimming back to mid-major universities, and bringing more financial opportunities to those that follow him. Congratulations, now the real work begins.
Submitted by: phatmatt
August 16, 2008 Well done Michael Phelps!! But is anyone here watching the olympics on BBC because they have Michael Johnson(athlete) as a pundit and he seems so bitter with regard Phelp's achievement!"Michael who??" he says after the 100m. Very unprofessional and immature. Why does he feel so threatened?? And to dismiss a fellow olympic champion's performance (superior in my opinion) like that is just belittling. US track and field have only their own representatives to blame for the lessening interest the American public and media are showing in US track athletes and track and field in general. The extra exposure that US swimming is getting in US media circles is well deserved Mr. Johnson and lets hope it continues!
Submitted by: calisurfin
August 16, 2008 There has always been an uneasy relationship between swimming and track and field. I don't know why. I was once told by a track coach that he feels there are too many events in swimming because they are too similar. To many 100 and 200 races. What???? Huh????? Ignorance! Michael Johnson is ignorant. Period. Ignore his blah blah blah.
Submitted by: paddles
August 16, 2008 That's too bad to hear that cali.
We are not getting BBC coverage at all just NBC.
A big part of USA Track and Field problems come from their arrogant attitude from their athletes and their agents. Mr. Johnson is now the hy-brid, a former athlete who is now an agent. A lot of talk on these forums about about a sport where you can't even debate it. Track could do with a dose of humility and class. And it stems from the arrogance that they can't and won't be caught.
That is really sad that a former athlete of his stature in the world would disparage a fellow athlete.
Maybe that is why Mr. Johnson is doing commentary for the BBC and not for NBC in his home country....."Michael Who?" indeed.
Submitted by: rcoach
August 16, 2008 Great take, rcoach. Hard to have any respect for Johnson when he has no respect for other athletes. Who needs him? Swimmers in general are simply a whole other class of athletes. I remember after the 2007 Worlds when Crocker false started in the relay. Tony never-had-an-original-thought Kornheiser speculated on PTI that Ian false started on purpose to keep Phelps from winning 8 golds, suggesting that it was payback for Phelps beating him in the 100 fly. Since that moment, I mute Kornheiser every time I see him. Those guys just are so used to dealing with the arrogance and self interest of usual athletes that they have no idea how to even react to the class of the average swimmer.
Submitted by: Dizzy1203
August 16, 2008 Maybe that can be a common agreement between everyone on here, regardless of positions on doping, suits, etc.
Our sport and athletes across the world and over time has proven itself and themselves to have carried themselves with class and distinction as well as holding up an interesting concept in today's sporting world.....that being an athlete does not preclude one of being an intelligent and articulate human being capable of class and poise in stressful situations.
I am sure there are exceptions, but I am talking about on the whole here.
And Track (and Mr. Johnson) could take a page from our sports book.
Submitted by: rcoach
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