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Olympic History Made at Beijing Games


Amazing performances in the swimming pool and on the track highlighted a busy Saturday at the summer Olympics in China. A total of 27 gold medals were handed out. VOA's Jim Stevenson has the highlights from Beijing.

American swimmer Michael Phelps had the golden touch Saturday. He came from seventh place halfway through the 100-meter butterfly to touch the wall in one-100th of a second ahead of Serb Milorad Cavic.

"I saw the finish on the big screen after the race. And then I saw it slowed down frame by fame back at the massage area. I was looking at the computer. And it is almost too close to see," said Phelps.

The win gives Phelps seven gold medals in Beijing, tying the record set by American legend Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Games. Among the women, the longest held swimming world record finally fell. Rebecca Adlington of Britain clocked eight minutes, 14.10 seconds to win the 800-meter freestyle and erase the 1989 record set by American Janet Evans. "I just can not believe it. Obviously I knew when I touched the wall that I got gold. But I did not expect that time at all. The 400-meter final that I swan the other day was slower. So I did not want to expect anything in this race. When I looked up, it was absolutely amazing," she said.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe claimed her first gold medal in Beijing by winning the women's 200-meter backstroke in world record time (2:05.24). "I am so proud to be representing Zimbabwe here. And it means the world to me and my family and all my supporters back home just to have heard the national anthem being played here. I just feel very honored that I was just given the opportunity to be able do that," she said.

Cesar Cielo Filho was the men' 50-meter champion (21.30 seconds) to earn Brazil its first gold medal of these games.

Sprinting on the track at the nearby "Bird's Nest" stadium, Jamaican Usain Bolt confirmed his status as the world's fastest man. He easily broke his own 100-meter world record with a time of 9.69 seconds. But Bolt says he ran for the win, not for the time. "This means a lot to my country - the first Olympic gold medal won by Jamaica. So it means a lot to my country. It means a lot to me. And when I go there, I go to compete at my best at all times. It does not matter what (who) I warm up against. Just one aim. And that is to go out there and win." he said.

Nataliia Dobrynska of Ukraine was the women's heptathlon champion. Valeri Vili of New Zealand topped the women's shot put event. Valeriy Borchin of Russia was the men's 20-kilometer race walk champion.

American Vincent Hancock survived a four-target shootout against Tore Brovold of Norway to claim the gold medal in the men's skeet competition. Hancock had shot an Olympic record score of 121 in qualifying.

Spain won gold while Britain picked up two in track cycling. Russia won the women's team foil event, giving runner-up United States its first ever medal in Olympic women's foil competition and the first U.S. Olympic medal in foil since 1960.

The U.S. baseball team got back on the winning track with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over Canada. The U.S. men have a 2-2 record and next play host China on Monday.

The U.S. men's water polo team scored a 7-5 victory over Croatia in Group-B. Tony Azevedo led the Americans, connecting on three of his six shots, while goalkeeper Merrill Moses stopped 11 shots. The United States takes its 3-1 record against Germany on Monday.

The U.S. men's volleyball team remains undefeated (4-0) after beating China, 3-1 (25-22, 25-12, 25-18) in group action. Head coach Hugh McCutcheon returned to the sidelines following the tragic murder of his father-in-law in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee stripped the bronze medal from Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian because of poor sportsmanship. The Swede made a peaceful podium protest two days earlier. He laid his medal on the mat after a disputed penalty resulted in his semifinal defeat by the eventual gold medal winner (Italian Andrea Minguzzi).

China leads the medals table with 27 gold medals and 47 overall. The United States has 54 total, but is ranked second because only 16 of those are gold. Germany is currently third with eight gold.

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