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Back To Beijing, Day 8: Michael Phelps’ Famous Fingertip Finish Secures Seventh Gold To Tie Spitz

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 16, 2018, 2:02 a.m. (ET)

Michael Phelps celebrates victory in the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 on Aug. 16, 2008 in Beijing.


From the thrilling Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ iconic eight gold medals, the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 were truly unforgettable. Relive the 10-year anniversary of the Games through Aug. 24 as TeamUSA.org recaps the daily highlights from Beijing. Here’s a look at Team USA's performance on Day 8, Aug. 16, 2008.

It was thisclose. You just had to look at the famous photo sequence to see it. By the smallest margin possible in the sport, just 0.01 seconds, Michael Phelps managed to catch Serbian rival Milorad Cavic in the last stroke of the men’s 100-meter butterfly to win his seventh gold medal in seven tries at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008.

The dramatic win on Day 8 of the Games tied Phelps with Mark Spitz for the most gold medals won at a single Olympics, and with the 4x100 medley coming up the next day Phelps’ quest for sole possession of the record remained intact.

It didn’t matter that this was the first event in Beijing in which Phelps didn’t set a world record.

“I’m really at a loss for words,” said Phelps, who went into the turn in seventh place. “I’m excited. I just don’t know what to say.”

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Once again, an otherworldly performance by Phelps highlighted an overall successful day for Team USA. U.S. athletes ended Aug. 16 with eight additional medals, including two golds.

Vincent Hancock, a 19-year-old men’s skeet shooter, won Team USA’s other gold medal. Competing in his first major international event, Hancock held off Norway’s Tore Brovold in a shoot-off for gold. The medal was Team USA’s sixth in the sport in Beijing, the most the U.S. had won since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

At the Bird’s Nest stadium, heptathlete Hyleas Fountain won a silver medal on the second day of track and field competition. Most attention that night, however, was on Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and his world-record-setting 100-meter win. Third in that race was American Walter Dix, fresh off his college career at Florida State.

In other U.S. action, swimmer Margaret Hoelzer won silver medal in the 200 backstroke (her second medal of the Games), while rower Michelle Guerette finished second in women’s single sculls. Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s foil fencing team of Emily Cross, Erinn Smart and Hanna Thompson also won a silver medal.

And in tennis, twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan wrapped up their second Olympic Games with their first medal, beating a French team in the men’s doubles bronze-medal match.

Meanwhile, in beach volleyball the men’s round-of-16 playoffs began with the U.S. teams of Todd Rogers-Phil Dalhausser and Jake Gibb-Sean Rosenthal both winning.

Chrös McDougall covered the 2008 Games for the Olympic News Service. He has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.