Phelps' magnificent seven

With apologies to Alex Ferguson: swimming, bloody hell. On yet another barely credible day in the sporting life of America's titanic dolphin man, Michael Phelps came from behind yesterday to win the equivalent of a photo finish by a whisker in the 100m butterfly to earn his seventh gold medal of these Games.

That matched Mark Spitz's 1972 record, although when Phelps went to his outsize bed last night he did so in the knowledge that he still had an eighth shot at gold here to come, in the4 x 100m medley relay this morning, Beijing time.

The record books will show that Phelps, 23, won the 100m fly in 50.58sec by a margin of 0.01sec from Serbia's Milorad Cavic. That barely begins to tell the tale of an extraordinary race. Cavic's coach lodged an official protest because he was convinced his man had touched first. Television pictures initially suggested that might have been the case, but it really was too close for the human eye to call.

Swimming's world governing body turned to slow-mo cameras for a decision, and to a back-up timing system. Every method showed 50.58sec on the touch for Phelps, 50.59sec for Cavic. One official calculated that Phelps won by 4.7 milli-metres – in other words, fingertips. Again. That is how Phelps' US relay team won the 4 x 100m freestyle gold earlier in the week.

"When I took that last stroke I thought I lost the race, but it turns out it made the difference," said Phelps.

As well as another Olym-pic gold, the 13th of his career, Phelps earned a$1 million bonus from Speedo for matching Spitz's record. Spitz, now 58, was among those who paid extravagant tribute to his young compatriot: "Not only is Phelps the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he's maybe the greatest athlete of all time."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor