Phelps wins 6th gold; Lochte gets bronze
BEIJING -- The anticipation is high for a Michael Phelps race, like the moments before a title fight or the start of the 100 meters in track and field.
Is this the day someone is going to take him?
Then he dives into the water and it's clear within moments that it's over, that no one is going to take him. He's too strong, too efficient, too much better than everyone else.
After the first leg of the 200-meter individual medley Friday, he was well ahead of the world-record pace, as well as the rest of the field. If there was going to be a challenge, it figured to come on the second leg, in the backstroke. He was facing teammate Ryan Lochte, who had within the hour won the gold medal in the 200 backstroke. But Phelps pulled even farther ahead. By the time the race was over, he had won in 1 minute, 54.23 seconds.
Hungary's Laszlo Cseh was second in 1:56.52, a European record but still 2.29 seconds behind Phelps. Two body lengths. Lochte was third in 1:56.53.
That gives Phelps six gold medals for Beijing. In each race, he has either produced or help produce a world record.
He has one more individual event, the 100 butterfly, and then a relay. If he wins both, and there is absolutely no reason to think he won't, he will have eight gold medals here, breaking Mark Spitz's all-time record of seven for a single Olympics. That also would give Phelps 14 gold medals for his career.
Some might argue that he is not the greatest Olympian of all time. But he is the greatest now, here.
Enjoy him while you can.
-- Randy Harvey
Photo: Michael Phelps, on his way to winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter individual medley. Credit: Mark Baker / Associated Press