Phelps closes in on Spitz record

Posted on 3:00 PM by Sameer Shah

Michael Phelps moved to within a single victory of equalling Mark Spitz's hallowed Olympic gold medal-winning record.

He destroyed the opposition once again to win the 200 metres individual medley at Beijing's Water Cube on Friday morning.

Phelps is aiming to surpass the swimming legend's haul of seven golds at a single games and so far he has not only kept pace with Spitz's achievements in Montreal 36 years ago by winning every event, he has also done so in a succession of world records.

He set yet another as he decimated a field that was expected to provide him with one of his more serious challenges as he aims for eight Olympic titles, but there was little Hungarian Lazslo Cseh or fellow American Ryan Lochte could do but battle for the minor places.

Phelps led from start to finish and his time of 1 minute 54.23 seconds was more than half-a-second faster than the world record he set at the United States trials in Omaha earlier in the year.

Cseh took second in a new European record time of 1:56.52, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Lochte, who had earlier won gold in the 200m backstroke in a new world-record time.

"I just wanted to step on it in the first 50m a little bit and try and get out to an early lead," said Phelps.

"I knew that was a hard double for Ryan. I knew in the first half if I got a big enough lead I thought I could hang on and that's all I wanted to do."

Phelps then kept his historic quest on track by qualifying for the final of the 100m butterfly, his last individual event in a packed programme that will conclude with the 4x100m medley relay on Sunday.

Serbia's Milorad Cavic set the fastest time in the semi-finals, touching the wall in 50.92s to qualify 0.05s ahead of Phelps.

Rebecca Soni added another gold medal in the pool for the Americans as she powered past Leisel Jones in the final 75 metres to win the 200m breaststroke in a new world-record time of 2:20.22, eclipsing the Australian's previous mark.

Germany's Britta Steffen claimed the gold in the 100m freestyle, touching just ahead of world-record holder Libby Trickett, who had set the early pace from the outside lane after only just qualifying for the final. American Natalie Coughlin was third.

Steffen's time of 53.12s was a new Olympic record.

Lochte claimed gold in the 200m backstroke ahead of Aaron Peirsol in a time of 1:53.94 while Russian Arkady Vyatchanin took bronze.

Zimbabwe's three-time silver medallist Kirsty Coventry set the fastest time in the semi-finals of the women's 200m backstroke..

Meanwhile, Olympic 100m freestyle champion Alain Bernard of France kept alive his hopes of a sprint double as he took his place in the final of the 50m event while Brazilian Cesar Cielo Filho broke the Olympic record with a swim of 21.34s.

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