Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Mr. Olympics, Michael Phelps, delivers

Michael Phelps shatters 400 IM world record, pays off.

Mr. Olympics, Michael Phelps, delivers

Visa, Speedo and PowerBar rejoiced as their workhorse, Michael Phelps, smashed his 2 1/2-week-old world record in winning the 400-meter individual medley. Phelps touched in 4:03.84, 1.41 seconds ahead of his mark at the Olympic Trials in Omaha on July 29, the first gold medal in his quest for a record eight at these Games. He won six gold medals and two bronze in Athens in 2004.

Teammate Ryan Lochte led the race at the end of the third lap, the first of the two backstroke laps, but Phelps regained it as the swimmers touched at the end of the backstroke stage and began the fifth lap. From there, Phelps buzzed through the breaststroke and, in the freestlye leg, opened a sizable lead over Lochte and Hungarian Cseh Laszlo, who won the silver, 2.32 seconds behind Phelps. Lochte won the bronze, 4.25 seconds off the pace. It was his third Olympic medal, having won silver in the 200 IM and gold in the 4x200 relay in Athens.

As President George W. Bush and his father, the former President, looked on, Phelps, 23, said he looked to his right and smiled shook off his competition, which, he said, was surprisingly close early.

"I wasn't comfortable after the first 200. We were pretty close together," Phelps said. "That's not how it usually is after 200."

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The race soon fell into form, however, the crowd swelling as the announcer updated Phelps' amazing pace.

 On the medal stand, Phelps, seasoned and salty in his third Games, clearly was moved as the National Anthem played. He had overcome a year of serious challeneges to his dominance; a wrist injury that required surgery; and the mounting pressure of mountainous expectation.

"I wanted to sing," he said, "but I couldn't stop crying. I have no idea why."

Like Phelps' corporate sponsors, the United States was elated, too.

DRIPS

Phelps said he wants this 400 IM to be his last, though coach Bob Bowman wants him to continue it. ... Havertown's Brendan Hansen shook off a shaky 100-meter breaststroke qualifying heat Saturday to finish with the fifth-best time in Sunday's semifinals, though his 59.94 seconds was well off his world record 59.13. Hansen, who won silver in Athens, swims in the final at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time Sunday on NBC. ... Katie Hoff saw her world record set at the U.S. Trials shattered in the 400 IM as she took the bronze, 2.26 seconds behind Austrialia's Stephanie Rice, who finished in 4:29.25, 1.87 seconds faster than Hoff's record.  

About this blog

SAM DONNELLON's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. Sam is veteran of Olympics coverage for the Daily News, including the Games in Sydney and Turin, among others.

MARCUS HAYES grew up on a small farm outside of Hermon, NY., a small town near the Canadian border about the size of Reading Terminal Market. In high school he played three varsity sports and aspired to be faster, or more skilled, or taller. Having failed in those aspirations and seeking a warmer climate, Marcus attended Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and eventually graduated with a degree in Magazine Writing. He also earned a degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. To date he has written for no magazines. His English is spotty at best. Upon graduation in 1990, with Jim Boeheim's talent-leaden SU basketball teams having won no titles, Marcus spent 4½ years working for the now-absorbed Syracuse Herald-Journal covering high school sports, local small college sports and non-revenue sports at SU. Marcus joined the Daily News as a feature story writer in 1995. Among other assignments he has covered the Eagles and Phillies beats for most of his tenure. Still, the paper soldiers on.

Sam Donnellon and Marcus Hayes
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