Phelps dwarfs GB achievements

British swimming and Michael Phelps had good days at the office here today. Both will go to bed dreaming of turning six gold medals into seven. And there the similarities end.

Before day dawns on the Chinese capital tomorrow morning, six is the number of swimming golds won by Britain at the Olympics since WWII, with Rebecca Adlington's 800m freestyle final to come.

And six was the number won by Phelps. At this Games. Since last Sunday. His 100m butterfly final tomorrow, for a magnificent seventh gold, was scheduled, like Adlington's race, for morning time here, the early hours of Saturday in the UK.

The American reached his weekend fly race – a $1m dollar deal for him because of potential bonus payments from Speedo - just a few minutes after he had stepped down from the top of yet another podium.

His half-dozenth gold of these Games, and the 12th of his career, came in the 200m individual relay. The time he clocked to win it was his sixth world record in six finals. He led from the klaxon to the touch, clocking one minute 54.23sec, or more than half a second faster than his own previous mark, set at the US Olympic trials earlier this year.

Britain also enjoyed a record-breaking time. In the evening session, the women's 4x100m relay team broke the European record by 0.19sec to qualify second fastest for Sunday's final. The men's relay team also qualified, in fifth place, for their final on Sunday, the last swimming race at the Water Cube. David Davies also qualified, in fifth place, for Sunday's 1,500m freestyle final, in which he won bronze in Athens.

Yet those positive developments are nothing against one man's assault on history: Phelps's ongoing, mind-boggling, breathtaking achievements in this little stretch of water.

The peerless American already had nicknames before Beijing: the Baltimore Bullet and Superfish were two of them. Now he is also The GOOAT (Greatest Olympian of all time), although there are those who dispute it. Arguments against his case can only be dented with more metal before the end of the Games. By then he wants to be The Gooatee, e for ever providing the supplementary letters.

This morning's win moved him to within a solitary victory of equaling Mark Spitz's seven golds at one Games. Phelps' rivals can only get churned about like so much laundry in his wake.

The 6ft 4in calorie furnace was a whopping 2.29sec ahead of Hungary's Lazslo Cseh, who took the medley silver in a European record-breaking time. And Cseh was just 0.01sec ahead of Phelps' compatriot Ryan Lochte, who took bronze. Cseh and Lochte are no mugs. Lochte had earlier won the 200m backstroke in a world record time. Cseh is the best that the European continent can muster in several disciplines.

If Phelps had not been here, Cseh would almost certainly have won three gold medals this week. But Phelps – or MOO, Man of the Olympics – has now beaten him into silver place in two individual medleys and the 200m fly.

Phelps was happy to deal with inevitable questions that his feats are too good to be true. He knows his freakishly proportioned body and an unmatched thirst for the success that his hard work brings are what propel him.

“I know that I am clean,” he said, in response to a question about drugs. “I did 'Project Believe' with USADA (The US Anti-Doping Agency) where I purposely wanted to do more tests to prove that. People can question all they want but the facts are facts and I have the results to prove it.”

Project Believe is a voluntary testing programme where the participants provide additional blood and urine samples beyond the regular testing regime. Phelps is also featured in the “My Victory” campaign, encouraging young athletes to take a pledge against doping.

He admitted his natural talent was not enough to succeed. “I have to work on speed and endurance and all four strokes. I need the speed to get the starts and the endurance to carry it through. You can't do it on talent alone. A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication.”

Britain's Davies will have his work cut out to replicate his Athens bronze after his 1,500m heat turned out to be the fastest ever. "Unbelievable," he said. "It's going to be tough in the final."

The world record holder, Autralia's Grant Hackett, lowered the Olympic record to 14min 38.92sec to qualify fastest, with the USA's Ryan Cochrane second and Russian Yuriy Prilukzov third in a European record.

Earlier in the day, Fran Halsall finished eighth in the 100m freestyle final, as did Gregor Tait in the 200m backstroke. James Goddard and Liam Tancock were among those trailing far behind Phelps in his final. Like most people these days.

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy