Image: Michael Phelps
Itsuo Inouye  /  AP
United States' Michael Phelps reacts after setting a new world record as he wins the gold in the men's 200-meter freestyle final during the swimming competitions in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 12.
msnbc.com news services
updated 8/12/2008 10:14:02 AM ET 2008-08-12T14:14:02
DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS

Michael Phelps has become the winningest Olympic athlete ever, earning his fourth gold medal of the Beijing Games with a world record in the 200-meter butterfly.

The American touched in 1 minute, 52.03 seconds, breaking his old mark of 1:52.09 set at last year’s world championships in Australia.

It was Phelps’ 10th career gold medal, breaking a tie with Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis and two others for most golds. He is 4-for-4 so far, setting world records in each of his events.
Laszlo Cseh of Hungary took the silver in 1:52.70. Takeshi Matsuda of Japan got the bronze in 1:52.97.

Yesterday, Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:42.96, the fastest-ever time by nearly a full second, giving him three golds and three world records thus far in Beijing. This also was his ninth career gold medal, tying Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis and two others for the biggest stash of Olympic gold.

And he’s still got five races to go.

The way Phelps looked Tuesday morning, Spitz’s other claim to fame — his record of seven gold at one Olympics — is in trouble.

Phelps led by a full body length after the first half lap. He was so far ahead for so long that it seemed as if he’d been given a head start. And, remember, the seven guys trailing him are among the best swimmers in the world. That included American Peter Vanderkaay, who won bronze.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” became an oft-heard tune at the Water Cube early on Day 4, as Natalie Coughlin and Aaron Peirsol won the next two medal races. Coughlin became the first woman to successfully defend her title in the 100 backstroke, then Peirsol won the men’s version in a world record. Margaret Hoelzer got bronze in Coughlin’s race and Matt Grevers was right behind Peirsol for silver. The next race, the women’s 100 breaststroke, was the first not won by an American — but Rebecca Soni was close, getting the silver.

Just like that, in about 30 minutes, the U.S. medal gold-medal count doubled from three to six, and the overall count jumped from 12 to 19.

More of the same might be needed to hold off the Big Red Machine known as the Chinese delegation. China was on top of the charts after Day 3 with 14 total medals, nine of them gold.

To appreciate those numbers, consider:

  • Other than the U.S., none of the other 203 delegations had won as many medals of any color as China has won of the very best shade.
  • No other country had won more than four golds. China had won that many in weightlifting alone.
  • China had nine different gold winners, so it’s not as if the pile has been padded by one standout, like Phelps.

China added yet another gold by winning the men's gymnastics competition. The roar began as soon as Chen Yibing’s feet hit the mat, a primal scream that was four pressure-packed years in the making.

Only half the meet was over, but so was this competition.

China has the Olympic title it has long craved and everyone else expected. The Americans, meanwhile, won the bronze with a roster that was patched together at the last minute when not one, but both Hamm brothers were knocked out with injuries.

Japan, the defending Olympic champion, won the silver.

Basketball
Dwyane Wade scored 19 points, LeBron James dominated the game with his size and strength on both ends, and the U.S. Olympic men's team wrapped up the easy portion of its schedule with a 97-76 victory over Angola.

The Americans (2-0) next face Greece, the team that stunned them two years ago in the semifinals of the world championship. Two days later comes a matchup with Spain, the team that won that tournament and is also 2-0 in this one after rallying to beat China in overtime behind 29 points from Pau Gasol.

Soccer
Heather O’Reilly scored less than a minute into the match to lead the Unites States to a 4-0 win over New Zealand and a spot in the quarterfinals of the women’s soccer tournament.

O’Reilly put the defending champions on the board 40 seconds into the match, firing a long-range right-footer over New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. The U.S. then got goals from Amy Rodriguez in the 43rd minute, Lindsay Tarpley in the 57th minute and Angela Hucles in the 60th minute.

Tuesday’s victory gave the U.S. first place in Group G with six points, edging Norway on goal difference and avoiding a match with title contender Brazil.

Boxing
Communication is a key element in sports, and that was proven in American flyweight Rau'Shee Warren's loss to Korean Lee Ok-sung.

Warren, the top American hope for a medal in boxing, misunderstood his corner and thought he was ahead in points late in the fourth and final round when he was actually down by one. By the time he realized his mistake with just under five seconds left, it was too late and he lost by a point.

For Warren, only the second USA boxer to compete in two straight Olympics since 1976, it was his second consecutive Olympics where he was eliminated in the opening round.

Tennis
Even by the lofty standards of the Williams sisters, three victories at the Olympics is a good day’s work.

They won in singles and doubles, and the toughest match was the one they played together. Venus and Serena rallied in first-round doubles to beat Iveta Benesova and Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Earlier, the Williamses won second-round singles matches. Serena beat Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-0, and Venus swept Benesova 6-1, 6-4.

The sisters could meet in Saturday’s singles final.

In men’s play, Rafael Nadal sustained his summer surge by beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-2.

“I played very well,” Nadal said. “It was one of the best matches I’ve played.”

Teammates Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber won their first-round doubles match, beating Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 6-2, 6-1. Davenport said a knee injury that forced her to withdraw from singles last week didn’t bother her in the match.

No. 1-seeded Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States won their opening match in doubles, defeating Mark Knowles and Devin Mullings of the Bahamas 6-2, 6-1.

In women’s singles, new No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Alona Bondarenko 7-5, 6-1. Jankovic supplanted Ana Ivanovic atop the rankings Monday.

On the men’s side, No. 3 Novak Djokovic beat Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-2.

Weightlifting
Don’t mess with Chinese weightlifters. Chen Yanqing broke two Olympic records en route to her second straight gold medal in the women’s 58-kilogram category, making the host country 3-for-3 thus far.

“In 2004, I won the gold medal for myself. Today, I won it for all my supporters and fans,” the 29-year-old said, revealing that she almost quit the sport three times.

Later in the day, Zhang Xiangxiang won the men’s 62-kilogram division, upping China to 4-for-4.

Beach volleyball
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States made it 103 consecutive victories with their win over the Cuban team of Dalixia Fernandez Grasset and Tamara Larrea. The pair beat Cuba in straight sets to all but assure themselves a spot in the medal round.

The Associated Press and NBCOlympics.com contributed to this report.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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