Michael Phelps of the United States won the 100m butterfly, clinching his seventh gold and equaling Mark Spitz's record of seven golds at a single Olympics.
Phelps, seventh at the turn, snatched victory by one-hundredth of a second over Serbia's Milorad Cavic, pounding the water in triumph and screaming with delight when he realized the enormity of his achievement.
"I was shocked at the end, it was kind of a little bit of a delayed reaction," he said.
The 23-year-old US phenomenon, who had appeared invincible as he set six world records in winning his first six golds at the Water Cube, displayed the sheer force of his will as he made up a deficit of more than half a second in the final lap to win in 50.58sec.
Cavic had challenged Phelps even before the race began.
As the American took up his familiar pre-race stance alongside his block, facing the side of the pool, Cavic stood by his own block and faced him.
The two stood stock still and staring until the starter called them onto the blocks, but at the finish it was Cavic who blinked, missing out on gold in 50.59.
As Cavic reached for the wall, Phelps gambled with one more stroke.
"I actually thought when I did take that half stroke, I thought I had lost the race right there, but I guess that was the difference in the end," said Phelps, who added he didn't realize how close it was.
"I had no idea," he said. "I was starting to hurt for the last 10 metres, it was my last individual race and I just wanted to finish as strong as I could."
Australian Andrew Lauterstein was third in 51.12.
It was the only one of Phelps's five individual events in Beijing in which he both started and finished without the world record, which still belongs to fourth-placed finisher and compatriot Ian Crocker.
With his seventh gold medal, Phelps matched the record that US swimmer Mark Spitz established with seven victories at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and will have a chance to break the mark when he swims the 4x100m medley relay on Sunday.
He has won gold in the 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m and 400m individual medley, 200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x200m freestyle relay.
Phelps had already moved ahead of Spitz on one score here. He surpassed the US swimming icon, along with Games greats Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina, who were tied for the Olympic record of nine career gold medals.
With his seventh Beijing triumph, to go with six gold medals from Athens, Phelps has 13 Olympic gold medals for his career.
Date created : 2008-08-16