Olympic roundup: Phelps' 7th; Bolt bolts in 100
BEIJING (AP) Michael Phelps won the race and withstood the review, giving him joint custody of the record for most gold medals won at a single Olympics. Then he went off to rest up for his final swim, the butterfly leg of the 400-meter medley relay Sunday morning.
Considering the U.S. has never lost that race, his once-audacious quest to go 8-for-8 in Beijing is now practically a given.
Thus, let the debate begin over just how great he's been.
Skip Olympic terms because he's blown by that, and move into the realm of all sports. So, how does it compare to Lance Armstrong's seven straight Tour de France wins? To Tiger Woods winning four straight major golf titles? To Roger Federer's 4½-year reign in tennis?
Answers will vary. But the fact Phelps is in the conversation proves the bigger point, that his performance the last week has cemented a spot among the greatest athletes of the early 21st century.
"Epic," said Mark Spitz, whose record of seven golds has held up since the 1972 Munich Olympics. "It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he's maybe the greatest athlete of all time."
The record-tying victory came in the 100-meter butterfly, and by the slimmest of margins: 0.01 second. An extra half-stroke at the end thrust him past Serbia's Milorad Cavic, who was coasting the last few feet. The finish was too tight to be seen by the naked eye and too important for blind faith in the scoring equipment.
So the Serbian delegation filed a protest and swimming's governing body had to review the tape down to the 10-thousandth of a second.
"There is no doubt the first arrival was Michael Phelps," said Cornel Marculescu of Switzerland, the executive director of swimming's international federation.
Even after watching a frame-by-frame replay on computer, Phelps said, "It's almost too close to see. ... One-hundredth is the smallest margin of victory in our sport. I guess it's pretty cool." Pretty profitable, too, as he collected a $1 million bonus from sponsor Speedo, a bounty for matching Spitz's mark that has stood since 13 years before Phelps was born. For what it's worth, Phelps got "only" an Olympic record, not a world mark, after doing so in his other six victories.
While Phelps is the face of these games and this race may become its signature moment, a lot more happened Saturday, including the best weather yet. Skies that cleared Friday turned crystal blue, almost smog-free and even low on humidity.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt left no doubt he's the world's fastest man - on land, this is - by winning the 100 meters in a world-record time of 9.69. It could've been faster had he not eased up to get a head start on his victory lap.
"When I saw the time, I'm celebrating," Bolt said.
Also, LeBron James and the U.S. men's basketball team pounded Spain 119-82 in what they hope is a preview of the gold-medal game.
The United States finished the day atop the medals table with 54. China was second with 47, but the hosts lead with 27 gold, more than the entire haul of any delegation except the Americans.
Sweden's medal count dipped because the International Olympic Committee decided to strip two-time world champion Ara Abrahamian of his bronze for violating the spirit of fair play during the medal ceremony. Ya think? All he did was drop the medal on the mat after taking third in the Greco-Roman 84-kilogram division, still incensed over a penalty call that decided his semifinal loss to the eventual gold winner. The IOC executive board ruled Saturday his behavior was like a political demonstration and disrespectful to fellow athletes.
Track and field
Bolt got out of the blocks slow and crossed the line strutting. That tells you how good he was in between.
Before the finish line, the 6-foot-5 champion had his long arms spread, palms up, and pounded his chest. His left shoelace was even untied.
The clock initially showed 9.68, then was changed while reggae music blared and Bolt's party continued around the track.
Bolt broke the mark he set in May by .03. Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago was second by 0.2 - unlike the pool, this constituted more than a body length - and American Walter Dix was third.
U.S. record-holder Tyson Gay didn't make it out of the semifinals. Asafa Powell, who held the world record for three years until Bolt came along, was fifth for the second straight Olympics.
In the men's 20-kilometer walk, Russia's Valeriy Borchin won, then collapsed soon after and was taken away on a stretcher. After medical attention for dehydration, he was back on his feet.
Valerie Vili, the reigning world outdoor and indoor champion, won the women's shot put, giving New Zealand its first gold medal in track and field since 1976.
Nataliia Dobrynska won the gold medal in women's heptathlon, leading a gold-silver finish for Ukraine. American Hyleas Fountain got the bronze.
The way world records have been falling at the Water Cube, Janet Evans' 19-year-old standard in the women's 800-meter freestyle - swimming's oldest world record - was doomed to go down. And Britain's Rebecca Adlington dropped it en route to her second gold medal; she also won the 400.
Cesar Cielo won the 50-meter freestyle, earning Brazil its first-ever gold medal in swimming.
"I'm so overcome with emotion," said Cielo, a nine-time NCAA champion at Auburn and a bronze winner in the 100 free. "I will continue to struggle and work hard. Hopefully this is the start of many good things to come."
Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry defended her Olympic title in the women's 200-meter backstroke in a world-record time. Her old roommate at Auburn, American Margaret Hoelzer, got the silver.
"I'm definitely pleased that if I couldn't do it, she was the one," Hoelzer said.
"It's joy and relief," said Coventry, who had been second in three previous races at these games. "I touched that wall and said, 'Thank goodness.'"
Also, 41-year-old Dara Torres was the fastest qualifier in the women's 50 freestyle. She'll have the middle lane for the final Sunday morning.
"That's a little more pressure," said Torres, whose collection of 10 medals includes bronze in this event in Sydney, "and I'm old enough to be able to handle it."
By beating Spain, the "Redeem Team" clinched first place in its group. The way they did it, though, shows they truly are a force.
Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony each scored 16 points and the Americans made 48 percent of their 3-pointers to rout the reigning world champions.
An emotional Yao Ming scored 25 points to lead China past Dirk Nowitzki and Germany 59-55 to reach the brink of the medal round - but you would've thought they'd clinched a medal by the way they celebrated afterward.
"We fought hard to the end," said Yi Jianlian of the New Jersey Nets, who added nine points and 11 rebounds. "Now we need to keep pushing ahead."
Manu Ginobili scored 32 and Luis Scola added 20, leading reigning Olympic champion Argentina past winless Iran 97-82, and Andrew Bogut had 22 and eight rebounds to help Australia past European champion Russia 95-80.
Mindaugas Lukauskis scored 20 points to keep Lithuania undefeated with an 86-73 victory against Croatia, and African champion Angola dropped to 0-4 with a 102-61 thrashing by Greece.
The U.S. beat China in three sets, but the bigger news was coach Hugh McCutcheon rejoining the team a week after a knife attack that killed his father-in-law and wounded his mother-in-law. The woman, Barbara Bachman, arrived in her home state of Minnesota on Friday for treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
After the final point, Riley Salmon embraced his coach. McCutheon joined in a team high-five on the court.
"I wouldn't have come back if I wasn't ready to come back," McCutcheon said. "It's what I do - get out on the sidelines and get the boys fired up."
The Americans went 3-0 without their coach, clinching a spot in the quarterfinals before he returned.
The American juggernaut crushed another opponent, with Jessica Mendoza hitting her third home run in two days and Jennie Finch pitching five shutout innings for a 7-0 victory over Taiwan. They've outscored their foes 36-1, have allowed just four hits in 29 innings, and have now won 19 straight Olympic games.
"USA is too strong to defeat," Taiwan coach Chang Chia-Hsing said.
In other games, Japan beat China 3-0, Australia beat the Netherlands 8-0 and Venezuela, playing in its first Olympics, stunned Canada 2-0.
Roger Federer is going home with a gold medal. The Williams sisters could, too.
Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka took the men's doubles title, while Venus and Serena Williams clinched at least a silver medal in doubles.
The Williamses beating Ukraine's Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko to advance to the gold-medal match against Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual. The Williams sisters improved to 9-0 lifetime in Olympic doubles. They won the gold medal at Sydney in 2000 but didn't play doubles in 2004 because Serena was hurt.
Federer and Wawrinka beat Sweden's Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3. Federer closed it out with a service winner, threw up his arms and began hopping, then hugged his partner. This should take help salve finally losing his No. 1 status to Rafael Nadal on Monday.
Russia will win women's singles with countrymates Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva squaring off. Dementieva beat another Russian, Vera Zvonareva, and Safina knocked out China's Li Na.
American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who have won all four Grand Slam championships, won the bronze in men's doubles.
Novak Djokovic beat American James Blake for bronze in men's singles.
It was another one-run game for the Americans, although this time they wound up on top - after erasing a four-run deficit.
Brian Barden homered and had a tying double, then Terry Tiffee doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh in a 5-4 victory over Canada.
Barden played in place of injured second baseman Jayson Nix a day after Nix fouled a ball off his left eye and needed micro surgery that will keep him out the remainder of the Olympics.
The Netherlands beat China 6-4 and South Korea beat Japan 5-3.
Vincent Hancock, a 19-year-old member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, won a shoot-off to claim the gold in skeet.
American Keith Sanderson was in first place after qualifying in the men's 25-meter rapid-fire pistol, but wound up fifth. Ukraine's Oleksandr Petriv won it.
Americans Shawn Estrada and Luis Yanez lost, leaving only two U.S. fighters in the tournament.
Yanez tied his match against Mongolia's Serdamba Purevdorj after three rounds, but couldn't pull it out.
Estrada lost to James Degale, the hard-punching Brit known as "Chunky."
Russian Matvey Korobov lost his first fight in five years, going down in a middleweight bout against Bakhtiyar Artayev of Kazakhstan, the welterweight winner in Athens.
The U.S. trio of Emily Cross, Erinn Smart and Hannah Thompson settled for silver in team foil, losing the final match to Russia 28-11. It's the first ever for Americans in women's foil and the first for the U.S. in all of foil since 1960.
"I don't think we even expected this to turn out as it did," Smart said.
Two U.S. men's teams remain on course for a showdown in the finals.
Reigning world champions and heavy gold-medal favorites Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States overcame mental mistakes, mis-hits and an 0-6 deficit in the first-to-15 final set to beat a Swiss pair.
Later, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal had a much easier time getting past a Spain team.
China's bid for a Phelpsian sweep of the diving events continued, with Guo Jingjing somersaulting and twisting off the 3-meter springboard, then knifing through the water with barely a ripple to take the lead after the semifinals. She's seeking her second straight gold.
American Nancilea Foster was fourth and teammate Christina Loukas was seventh.
No country has swept the diving medals since the United States did in 1952, but there were only four events then.
American Michelle Guerette took silver in women's single sculls, finishing behind Bulgaria's Rumyana Neykova. Norway's Olaf Tufte won his second straight men's single sculls title.
Australia's Drew Ginn and Duncan Free won men's pair. Ginn won in Athens, too, but with a different partner. The Romanio duo of Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu won the women's pair, bringing their combined career Olympic gold medal haul to a whopping nine. Andrunache has five and Susanu four from the pair and other events with different partners.
Twin sisters Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell won women's double sculls, defending their Athens triumph by 0.01. Australia's David Crawshay and Scott Brennan of Australia won the men's double sculls.
Britain continued its dominance in men's four rowing, winning gold for a third straight time.
Teenager Taylor Phinney won't be adding to his family's medal collection just yet. The son of 1984 medalists Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Davis Phinney failed to qualify for the medal round in the individual pursuit, losing in a round-of-eight matchup. Britain's Bradley Wiggins won the event for his second straight gold medal.
Two-time world champion Sarah Hammer failed to advance to the medal round in women's pursuit, and fellow American Giddeon Massie failed to advance in keirin, which was won by Britain's Chris Hoy.
With Hoy winning and countryman Ross Edgar taking silver, the British already have eight cycling medals, four of them gold.
Joan Llaneras of Spain won the men's points race, adding that gold to the one he claimed in the event at Sydney in 2000 and the silver won in Athens four years ago.
Boing, boing, boing. That's the bouncing of the trampoline and the sound of the Americans Chris Estrada and Erin Blanchard getting bounced out in qualifying.
"I was pretty calm until I got on the trampoline," Estrada said. "Then the nerves hit."
Do you believe in ... the U.S. men's water polo team?
After raising doubt with a loss to Serbia, they showed strong defense in knocking off world No. 1 Croatia 7-5. The Croats came in having won three games by a total of 15 goals.
"They've got to know now that if they play like that, they can win this thing," U.S. coach Terry Schroeder said.
The Americans must knock off Germany to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
Canada's Carol Huynh, a frequent world placewinner but never a champion, upset 2004 silver medalist Chiharu Icho of Japan to win the women's 48-kilogram gold. She also became Canada's first gold medalist in Beijing and her country's first-ever champion in this sport, which has been around since the first Olympics in 1896. American Clarissa Chun lost a bronze-medal match.
Japan's Saori Yoshida became the first women's wrestler to win two Olympic gold medals, taking the 55 kg again by pinning 18-year-old Xu Li of China, who was trying to become the youngest Olympic champion in any discipline.
American Cheryl Haworth was sixth in the women's super heavyweight division. Jang Mi-ran of South Korea broke three world records on the way to gold and the unofficial title of the world's strongest woman.
"I am a big girl but that's a lot of weight," said Haworth, who won a bronze medal in Sydney 2000.
The semifinals are set: Nigeria vs. Belgium and Brazil vs. Argentina.
Belgium beat Italy 3-2 and Nigeria beat Ivory Coast 2-0. Brazil beat Cameroon 2-0 and Argentina beat the Netherlands 2-1.
The showdown between British star Ben Ainslie and young American Zach Railey in the first-ever medal race (they used to be decided on points) was postponed by a day after winds failed the racers in the Finn class. Fickle winds also prevented a British-Dutch battle for gold in the women's Yngling class.
Indonesia's Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan won men's doubles, defeating China's Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng in three sets. It was Indonesia's first gold medal of the games and second of the day in this sport. Maria Kristin Yulianti won the bronze in women's singles.
China's Zhang Ning defended her singles title, knocking off top-seeded countrywoman Xie Xingfang in three sets.
So much for bronze. The U.S. women were ousted from the third-place playoff bracket by South Korea.
The second-seeded Germans will face the winner of the China-South Korea contest to be played later Saturday for men's gold.
Women's field hockey
The U.S. women got their first win of the tournament, beating winless New Zealand 4-1. With one game left, the Americans still have a chance of making the semifinal round.