10OLYMPIC REVIEW RESULTS BEIJING HIGHLIGHTS " HIS 200M TIME OF 19.30 SECS WAS AS REMARKABLE AS HIS 100M TIME, IF ONLY BECAUSE HE CUT 0.02 SECS OFF THE TIME OF MICHAEL JOHNSON, SET DURING THE 1996 ATLANTA GAMES, A PERFORMANCE REVERED FOR ITS PERFECTION"
OLYMPIC REVIEW RESULTS11 BEIJING HIGHLIGHTS Carl Lewis, Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina and Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, but also to exceed the record seven gold medals in one celebration by Spitz in 1972. It seemed as if it was his pre- ordained destiny to achieve this record figure because on several occasions, when it seemed as if Phelps might fail, either he, a team- mate or fate intervened to produce something extraordinary. In the 200m butterfly, his goggles filled with water, causing him not only irritation but also blinding him so that he couldn't see the turns. Instead, he counted his strokes, not an easy thing to do in the frenzy of an Olympic final, which helped him judge when he should be preparing to turn and he eventually came through with victory and, astonishingly, a world record of 1min 52.03 secs. Then, in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay, his team-mate Jason Lezak was a body- length down on Alain Bernard, the world record- holder, at the start of the final length. Lezak said afterwards: " I thought there was no way I would catch Bernard. Then I thought ' This is ridiculous. These are the Olympic Games – you have to go for it.'" When Lezak beat Bernard to the touch, Phelps, his vein- popping body tense, let out a scream of ecstasy at the end of the pool. The eight gold medals were still possible. Even in his penultimate race, the 100m butterfly, Phelps just managed to catch Milorad Cavic, winning by one one- hundredth of a second, as he pushed the finishing pad, whereas the Serbian glided to the side, so delaying the impact on the recording device. Grant Hackett, the Australian double Olympic 1500m champion, summed up the feat of Phelps, declaring: " It can't be described. We will never ever see it again. Everything lined up for him incredibly. He's a nice guy, a good bloke and over the last few years, I have never seen him change." Spitz, whose 1972 victories I witnessed, said before the events began that if Phelps got seven gold medals he would be the second man on the moon, but " if he gets eight, he will be the first man on Mars." When asked if he considered himself the greatest Olympian, Phelps accepted that he was most " decorated" but pointed out that this did not make him the greatest. That was a sensible reply. I was frequently asked in Beijing about his status in history. My feeling is that longevity of excellence is one crucial definition of greatness. Phelps has only won medals in two Olympiads and, at the moment, his feats do not yet exceed, even if they may equal, those of Nurmi and Lewis. However, he may well stand alone if he garners more medals in 2012. What I certainly believe is that Phelps is, by some way, the greatest swimmer of all time. His range of ability, demonstrated by his prowess in the individual medley, is superior to that of Spitz, who essentially was a supreme sprinter in freestyle and butterfly. On the track, Bolt won three sprint gold medals, the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay, being the first to complete this since Lewis in 1984. However, what he also achieved was to set world records in all three, something that no one has ever done at the Olympic Games, not Jesse Owens, Bobby Morrow, Valeriy Borzov nor even Lewis himself. His performance in the 100m was something that no one present will forget. With a third of the race gone, he had the luxury to look right, stretch out his arms and slow down. Yet, he still clocked 9.69 secs. Then he signalled to the crowd, lined up an imaginary bow, releasing a bolt. His 200m time of 19.30 secs was equally remarkable, if only because he cut 0.02 secs off the time of Michael Johnson, set during the 1996 Atlanta Games, a performance revered for its perfection. In the relay, with the US team dropping the baton in the heats, Jamaica had scant opposition. Bolt was able to join forces with his compatriot Asafa Powell, a disappointment to himself and his supporters in the individual 100m when he finished fifth, and Jamaica took the title in 37.10 secs by a margin of 0.96 from Trinidad and Tobago, the biggest winning margin in the event since the triumph of the celebrated American relay team in 1936. As Powell himself admitted: " Usain is the best ever sprinter and I have said that before." So Bolt fulfilled all the promise that he had displayedas a junior and athletics has a new global star. Much as one delights in his bravado and showmanship, he would be even more widely appreciated if he took a few seconds to console his defeated rivals. Grace in victory should be an essential feature of an Olympic champion. If Bolt was the most glittering star in the athletics galaxy, this does not mean that other competitors did not shine. Kenenisa Bekele, of Ethiopia, also demonstrated his range of running talent by finishing first in both the 5,000 and 10,000m, the first person to achieve this double since another Ethiopian, Miruts Yifter, in 1980, while his compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba duplicated his feat. She finished first in the 5,000m and also the 10,000m, posting 29 mins 54.66 secs, the second fastest time ever by a woman, and five seconds quicker than the time of Emil Zatopek in winning the Olympic men's 10,000m in 1948. Kenya, Ethiopia's perennial rivals in the middle and long- distance events, took the men's 800m, the steeplechase and the marathon as well as the women's 1,500m and also the 800m, through the extraordinarily precocious talent of Pamela Jelimo, ? Left Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became one of the faces of the Games with three gold medals and three world records on the track Right Kenenisa Bekele completed a stunning 5,000m and 10,000m double TM