I’m not unbeatable, insists history-making Phelps


Beijing : Shortly after crushing the opposition in the 200m butterfly and 4x200m freestyle relay, American swimming superstar Michael Phelps said he did not regard himself as unbeatable.

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Phelps, who had earlier won his fourth and fifth gold medals of the Beijing Games to take his overall tally to 11 – two more than any other athlete in Olympic history – is going for an unprecedented eight gold medals in the Beijing Water Cube.

“There are still three races to go and I am not unbeatable. No swimmer is unbeatable,” he said.

The US head coach Eddie Reese might well disagree with his star attraction, who he said was riding a wave of success. “He is just sailing along this week. He’s unstoppable.”

The 23-year-old said the last message he received by text before he entered the water was from a friend in America.

“He said: “Dude it is ridiculous how many times each day I have to see your ugly face. Keep up the good work. It is time to be the best- ever.””

Phelps took him by his word and made history with a men’s 200m butterfly world record time of 1 minute 52.03 seconds, which was six hundredths faster than his record established at the world championships in Melbourne last year.

Yet he still said he was disappointed with his time.

“I know I can go faster, but I had some water in my goggles and could simply see nothing. I was trying to work out where the T was under the water and then I was counting my strokes.

“Luckily I know how many strokes I need for 50 metres, so I was just hoping that I would get it spot on.”

Less than an hour after swimming in the butterly event, Phelps was the lead swimmer for the American relay team that became the first- ever to swim under seven minutes.

Their time of 6:58.56 took an astonishing 4.68 seconds off their own world record, also set in Melbourne during the worlds last year.

That victory took Phelps to his 11th gold medal — two more than Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi, US swimmer Mark Spitz and US athlete Carl Lewis, who have nine each.

The Baltimore, Maryland-born swimmer said that the realization had taken a while to sink in.

“I think I am at a loss for words. Growing up, I always wanted to be an Olympian. These are now my third Olympic Games, and to be the most decorated Olympian sounds weird. I am speechless.”

He said that it started setting in after the butterfly. “The most decorated Olympian? That’s a pretty cool title to have. You could say I am definitely honoured.”

Phelps thanked his coach Bob Bowman. “I could not have done this without Bowman. He is so intelligent in this sport and cares about every one of his athletes.

“He is always on top of things. I’m very fortunate to have a coach like that. We’ve been through good times and bad times, we’ve been through a lot.”

Phelps was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in his youth and started swimming at aged 7, partly because of this and partly because of two elder sisters who also swam.

He has always trained under Bow Bowman, whom he first encountered at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and followed to the University of Michigan in 2004, where he swims for Club Wolverine.

He first swam at the Olympics in 2000, becoming the youngest American male swimmer in 68 years. He placed fifth in the 200m butterfly.

Shortly afterwards, he became the youngest male ever to set a world record, when he swam 1:54.92 in the 200m butterfly.

He has announced that he will return to Baltimore after the Beijing Olympics and continue working with Bowman, who is returning to North Baltimore Aquatic Club.