Swimming: Phelps captures gold medal No 5

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The Independent Online

America's sensational Michael Phelps stole the show here last night by winning his fifth gold and seventh medal of these Games on another evening where other finals ended in anti-climactic, and frankly puzzling, British disappointments.

America's sensational Michael Phelps stole the show here last night by winning his fifth gold and seventh medal of these Games on another evening where other finals ended in anti-climactic, and frankly puzzling, British disappointments.

The 19-year-old came through the field to beat his American team-mate, Ian Crocker, on the last stroke of the 100m butterfly final in a time of 51.25sec. Phelps' spoils here means he joins Mark Spitz in having won a record seven swimming medals at any one Olympics. All Spitz's were gold but Phelps can claim an all-time Olympic record of eight medals in one Games in tonight's 4x100m medley relay.

The biggest British disappointment came in the 800m freestyle final, where Rebecca Cooke, the second-fastest qualifier, finished sixth, five seconds behind the winner, Japan's Ai Shibata, and four seconds outside her personal best. Shibata won in 8min 24.54sec.

Katy Sexton, who won world championship gold in Barcelona last year, could only manage seventh place in her 200m backstroke final last night. Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry won in 2min 9.19sec, ahead of Russia's Stanislava in second. Japan's Reiko Nakamura and Germany's Antje Buschschulte dead-heated to share bronze. Sexton, 22, clocked 2min 12.11sec, which was more than three and a half seconds outside her personal best.

This week's British results have been a mixed bag from the word go. Mel Marshall, James Gibson, Darren Mew, Sexton and others have performed below expectation. Yet Stephen Parry won a 200m butterfly bronze that no one expected while Simon Burnett was a surprise finalist in the 200m freestyle "race of the century".

The teetering between glory and failure - and there is no middle ground in many people's minds - continued yesterday. David Davies qualified with the fastest time for tonight's 1,500m freestyle final but a cloud still hung over the fate of James Goddard's disputed placing in Thursday's 200m backstroke final.

Goddard finished fourth behind America's Aaron Peirsol, who was subsequently disqualified, leaving Goddard with bronze. But then an American appeal, on a paperwork technicality, saw the original result reinstated. A British counter- appeal against that appeal result failed. As sport, it was most unappealing.

Officials from British Swimming and the British Olympic Association were locked in talks yesterday trying to decide whether to take Goddard's case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Bill Sweetenham, British Swimming's technical director, was pressing to do it. It is understood there was reticence at the BOA, however. Senior officials there do not want to project an image of British sport so down on its luck that it needs to become embroiled in legal scraps for a bronze medal.

Davies diverted some minds by breaking his own British record in yesterday morning's 1,500m heats with a time of 14min 57.03sec. That was 0.90sec quicker than the mark he set at the Olympic trials in Sheffield in April and also only the second time anyone had swum under 15 minutes in the heats of a major championship.

Davies, 19, from Cardiff, has been a revelation since concentrating fully on the 1,500m since the Commonwealth Games in Manchester two years ago, and was hugely impressive as he led from start to finish. Team-mate Graeme Smith also qualified from the same heat, and both Britons face Australia's hot favourite, Grant Hackett, in tonight's final.

Another final tonight, indeed the last race of the Olympic meet, has British involvement in the form of the men's 4x100m medley relay team. Gregor Tait, James Gibson, James Hickman and Matt Kidd finished third in their heat yesterday, and third fastest overall, in a time of 3min 36.94sec, behind the United States (including Phelps) and Germany.

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