Gold medals went to 19 winners Tuesday at the Olympics in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson is in Beijing, where American swimmers used different forms of inspiration to quickly add three gold medals to the U.S. total.
Michael Phelps won his third race in as many days, and again set another world record. His time of 1:42.96 Tuesday at the Water Cube, gave him the 200-meter freestyle title that he was denied four years ago in Athens. As he tries for eight total gold medals, Phelps says he is motivated by tougher swims compared to the last Olympics.
"It is taking faster times to get into the semifinals and finals than it was four years ago," said Phelps. "As long as I am swimming the way I am, hopefully I can keep everything rolling. I am very satisfied with how I have been going so far. I am almost halfway."
Partly inspired by Phelps, fellow American Aaron Piersol also broke his own world record in the men's 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:52.54.
"We all have been training together for the past four weeks," Piersol said. "We know how good this team is. And just like he has pushed us, I think we all push each other. From what Michael is doing, it certainly is elevating everybody else's performance here."
Natalie Coughlin earned the gold medal in the women's 100-meter backstroke event. Her mark of 58.96 not only edged world record holder Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, but made Coughlin the first woman to repeat as Olympic champion in the event. Her inspiration came from a dramatic race on Monday.
"Today, the U.S. team gained a lot of momentum," Coughlin said. "And I think a part of that came from the men's 4x100 freestyle relay yesterday. It was probably the most amazing swim I have ever seen. And it got a lot of us really, really pumped up for the rest of the meet."
Australian wins 100-meter breastroke
Australian Leisel Jones had her Olympic dreams crushed four years ago in Athens, failing to live up to her billing as an unbeatable swimmer. She found redemption by winning the 100-meter breaststroke final.
"Anyone to go through disappointments and to criticism is something very difficult," said Leisel Jones. "But to come out the end as an Olympic gold medalist is something that makes it way more important than just coming to my first Olympics winning a gold medal straight away, and then what? I mean, you have got to improve after that."
US wins 50-meter pistol final
Among the other 15 medal events of the day, American Glenn Eller won the men's double trap shooting event. Jin Jong Oh fired a golden round in the men's 50-meter pistol final. Host China turned in a commanding performance in men's team artistic gymnastics, placing first in five of the six apparatuses (to score 286.125 points). Japan was a distant second followed by the U.S. men.
China dominates women's synchronized diving
China's dominance in diving continued with gold in women's synchronized 10-meter platform diving. China has won all three diving finals held so far. Zhong Man claimed China's first fencing gold in 24 years, by winning the men's individual saber competition.
Russians dominated Greco Roman wrestling. Nazyr Mankiev was the winner in the 55 kilo weight class while the 60 kilo gold went to Islam-Beka Albiev.
South Korean Pak Hyon Suk topped the podium in 63 kilo women's weightlifting while the men's 69 kilo title went to Liao Hui of China.
Japan wins judo gold
Judo gold went to Ayumi Tanamoto of Japan in the women's 63 kilo category. Ole Bischof of Germany took top honors in the men's 81 kilo division.
Slovak Michal Martikan paddled his way to victory in single canoe. The single men's kayak gold went to German Alexander Grimm.
Germans take lead in equestrian team event
Germany placed first in equestrian team jumping while the individual title went to British rider William Fox-Pitt.
Other Olympic highlights included Howard Bach and Bob Malaythong, who became the first American team to advance to an Olympic quarterfinals in badminton.
US women's softball teams trounces Venezuela
The U.S. women's softball team opened the defense of its gold medal with an 11-0 win over Venezuela in five innings. The 11 runs was an Olympic record for an individual team.
The day's results keep China at the top of the medals table with 13 gold, three silver and four bronze. Ranked by gold medals, the United States is second with seven, followed by South Korea with five.