Not even a pair of leaky goggles could keep the swimmer from earning his 10th and 11th gold medals
Michael Phelps continued his gold rush Wednesday, winning two more gold medals and smashing two world records.
The wins – his 10th and 11th career golds – make him with winningest Olympian in history. As the announcer at the National Aquatics Center declared, that makes him “arguably the greatest Olympian of all time.” (The comment earned a smile from Phelps, who remained stoic for most of the day’s competition.)
The day began less than auspiciously, when Phelps’s goggles filled up with water during the 200-meter butterfly. The 23-year-old still won handily – in a world-record time of 1:52.03 – but he was visibly annoyed after he touched the wall.
“I couldn’t see anything for the last 100 [meters],” Phelps said afterward. “It just kept getting worse and worse through the race.”
Although he was disappointed in his time, Phelps begrudgingly admitted, “for the circumstances, I guess it’s not too bad.”
Actually, it got much better. Later in the day, Phelps led off the U.S. 800 freestyle relay. The team – which included Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Peter Vanderkaay – won gold in under 7 minutes, with a mark of 6:58.56. (That shattered the Americans’ previous world record by 3.63 seconds.)
“It’s everything I ever dreamed about,” Phelps said of winning his second relay gold in Beijing. “On the podium, I kept tearing [up] at it. I’m almost at a loss for words …. It’s the best thing having four American guys … swim all well together.”
The gold medals give Phelps his fourth and fifth wins in China – putting him more than halfway toward his historic quest of claiming eight victories in the Games. (American swimmer Mark Spitz holds the current record of seven gold medals in a single Summer Olympics.)
“From now on, it’s just a downward slope,” Phelps said. “The end is close. I love it! I’ve still got some left in the tank.”
• Reporting by CYNTHIA WANG
• In 2004, the swimmer talked about life after winning six Olympic gold medals.