Phelps Wins Record Eighth Olympic Title

Aug. 18 -- On a day when Michael Phelps won his record eighth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics, China claimed another eight titles for a Games-leading total of 35, its best performance in history.

With one week left of competition, the host nation has already surpassed its haul of 32 gold medals in Athens in 2004. China's eight golds in 37 medal events yesterday was the best single-day showing of the Games.

"For China, teams are strong; whereas for the U.S.A., individuals are strong," Chinese table tennis coach Shi Zhihao said. The U.S. "managed to have one athlete win eight, it took the entire Chinese team to win eight.''

Phelps eclipsed the single-Games record of seven gold medals he shared with fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz by helping the U.S. win the men's 400-meter medley relay in world record time. That victory capped nine days of swimming competition that produced 25 world records.

Phelps reached two gold medal pinnacles in Beijing, surpassing the previous career record of nine and the 1972 performance of Spitz, which many Olympic historians considered the ultimate individual Olympic achievement. Phelps now has 14 career gold medals.

"I literally wanted to do something that no one's ever done before in this sport,'' Phelps told reporters. "Without the help of my teammates it wouldn't have been possible. We all came together as one unit.''

Emmons relives nightmare as China takes shooting gold

American Matthew Emmons cracked under pressure for the second Olympics in a row to gift Qiu Jian of China the gold medal in the men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions final.

Emmons, who enjoyed a comfortable lead going into his last shot, managed only a miserable 4.4 to drop to fourth place in another heartbreaking finish at the Games.

Four years ago in Athens, Emmons needed a 8.0 from his final shot to win gold and shot 8.1 - only to find he had fired at an opponent's target and was dropped to eighth place.

The 27-year-old once again found his nerves deserting him at the crucial moment, his final score of 4.4 coming after he averaged 10.1 in the previous nine shots of the final.

(Bloomberg, AFP)

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