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 9, Aug. 17, 2008.
Finally … eight.
Michael Phelps’ journey to a record eight Olympic gold medals included wire-to-wire domination, otherworldly comebacks and a win by the smallest margin possible.
On Day 9 of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, with the U.S. team’s win in the men’s 4x100 medley, the new king was crowned in a relatively comfortable 0.7-second win. Phelps, swimming the butterfly leg, moved Team USA from third to first, and then teammate Jason Lezak did the rest in the freestyle.
With the win, Phelps secured his seventh world record of the Games and, more importantly, his eighth gold medal, breaking the previous record set by U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz in 1972.
“I was thinking not to blow the lead,” Lezak told the Associated Press. “I was really nervous.”
Added Phelps: “Everything was accomplished. I will have the medals forever.”
Phelps achieved his goals, but the Games were hardly over. Americans won two more gold medals and 11 total medals on Day 9, while the U.S. women’s basketball and volleyball teams each wrapped up pool play with wins and moved on to the playoffs.
Speaking of dominant women’s teams, two won gold medals on Day 9.
At the tennis center, sisters Serena and Venus Williams beat a Spanish team to win their second women’s doubles gold medal together. They also won in 2000 and later on again in 2012.
Meanwhile, the two-time defending world champion women’s eight rowing team cruised to a gold medal. Their winning streak in Olympic and world championships competition would reach 11 before they finished fourth in 2017.
The last day in the pool also included two silver medals. In the 50 free, Dara Torres was second by .01 seconds, and then she joined the 4x100 medley that also finished second. With three medals in Beijing, the 41-year-old Torres ended her career with 12 Olympic medals and became the oldest swimming medalist ever. Natalie Coughlin, who was also in the relay, finished with six medals in Beijing. That was a record for U.S. women.
Two days after teammates Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson battled to a 1-2 finishing the women’s gymnastics all-around competition, they each added another medal in apparatus finals, with Johnson finishing second and Liukin third on floor exercise.
Sailor Zach Railey also won a silver medal in the Finn class, as did the U.S. men’s saber fencing team of Tim Morehouse, Jason Rogers, Keeth Smart and James Williams.
Wrestler Randi Miller won a bronze medal, as did the men’s eight rowing team.
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.