Michael Phelps does it -- Olympic gold No. 8
BEIJING -- Bob Beamon won a gold medal 40 years ago with a long jump that still stands as an Olympic record. It was such an amazing jump that feats considered comparable for years to become were called Beamonesque.
Will spectacular achievements now be known as Phelpsian? The remarkable Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal Sunday, breaking Mark Spitz's single Games record of seven gold medals that stood almost as long as Beamon's, 36 years.
Phelps, 23, of Baltimore, won the record-breaker in a relay, the 400-meter medley. Unlike the 400 freestyle relay last Monday, in which his record quest was kept alive by Jason Lezak's phenomenal come-from-behind anchor leg, Phelps had to rely to a great extent on himself in this one.
The United States was in third place when he dived into the water on the third leg, the butterfly. He swam it in 50.15, more than seventh-tenths ahead of Japan's Takuro Fujii, who had hit the water first, and almost a full second ahead of Australia's Andrew Lauterstien, who had dived in just ahead of Phelps.
He handed over a relatively comfortable lead to Jason Lezak, whose heroics weren't necessary this time to bring the United States home in a world-record time of 3:29.34. Australia finished second in 3:30.04. Japan was third in 3:31.18.
In eight finals, Phelps either produced or helped produce seven world records.
"It's been such an unbelievable roller coaster," Phelps said. "It's been such an unbelievable ride. With so many people saying it couldn't be done, all it took was a little imagination.
"I don't know what to feel right now. It's so emotional. All I want to do is go see my mom."
For his career, Phelps now has 14 gold medals, five more than anyone else in history, and 16 medals, second only to Soviet gymnast Laryssa Latynina's 18.
-- Randy Harvey
Photo: Brendan Hansen, left, Aaron Peirsol and Michael Phelps react as Jason Lezak brings home the gold in world-record time during the men's 4x100-meter medley relay swimming final. Credit: Carl De Souza / AFP/Getty Images