A cascade of swimming records has fallen in the Beijing Olympic pool. Wednesday began with four world records set in the first four events on the schedule. VOA's Jim Stevenson has highlights from the fifth full day of competition.
World records are always impressive accomplishments. With so many being set in swimming at the Beijing Olympics, it is hard to comprehend the magnitude of the results.
But what stood out Wednesday was the victory by American great Michael Phelps in the men's 200-meter butterfly. That win gave Phelps his fourth title of the games and a record 10th career gold medal. He says every win has been special.
"When you have an Olympic gold medal, it stays with you forever," Phelps said. "That never leaves your side. You are always an Olympic gold medalist. Birthdays happen every year. Christmas happens every year. You know, you only get to be an Olympic gold medalist so many times."
Phelps added a fifth gold thanks to a record shattering performance in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay. He and three teammates clocked the first sub-seven minute performance ever (6:58.56), chopping more than four and a half seconds off the previous best. Phelps has three races remaining on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The top accolade in the women's 200-meter individual medley went Australian Stephanie Rice, whose world record of 2:08.45 minutes edged Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe.
"The last 50 [meter] was a great challenge," Rice said. "I mean, we were both battling it out. And that is sort of what the Olympics is all about. It is about the challenge. I was trying not to look over because I knew she was right there. I just tried to close my eyes and concentrate on all the hard [practice] sessions we have done. And really just focus on my own race."
Italian Federica Pellegrini expressed her relief after lowering her own world record with a time of 1:54.82 minutes to win the women's 200-meter freestyle race.
"When I win, I say 'finally, finally.' Because this 200 meters [race], really I have been expecting to win this competition for the last four years. So for me, this is like I redeem myself," Pellegrini said.
American gold came on the Beijing streets, where Kristin Armstrong rolled to victory in the women's road-cycling individual time trial. Fabien Cancellara of Switzerland won the men's event.
Inside, the Chinese team claimed its first ever women's gymnastics title ahead of the United States and Romania. Wang Feng and Qin Kai completed a Chinese sweep of the synchronized diving events with a victory off the three-meter springboard.
Chen Ying added to the Chinese total by winning the women's 25-meter pistol event. That victory gives the Chinese six shooting medals in these Games.
China's Liu Chunhong won the women's 69-kilometer weightlifting gold medal. South Korean Sa Jaehyouk had the best lift in the men's 77-kilo division.
Men's individual foil gold went to German fencer Benjamin Philip Kleibrink. Compatriot Britta Heidemann took the women's individual epee title.
Masae Ueno won Japan's third gold medal in women's 70-kilo judo, needing less than one minute to defeat Anaysi Hernandez of Cuba. Ronda Rousey earned bronze to claim the first Olympic medal in women's judo for the United States since the event was put on the official schedule in 1992. Irakli Tsirekidze of Georgia was the 90-kilo men's champion.
Georgia added a gold from 74-kilo Greco-Roman wrestling. Lee Chang-hwan of South Korea set an Olympic record in his second-round archery win, scoring 117 of a possible 120 points.
Elsewhere, the U.S. women's softball team were again dominant in their second game of the Olympic tournament. Cat Osterman recorded only the second complete game no-hitter by an American in Olympic softball history on the way to a 3-0 victory over Australia.
And in beach volleyball, a pair of Georgian players: Cristine Santanna and Andreeza Chagas, topped Russian duo Natalia Uryadova and Alexandra Shiryaeva, 2-1, in a women's preliminary pool-C match.