At the Water Cube, Beijing

If ever anyone was in any doubt about Michael Phelps' ability to become the greatest ever Olympian at a single Games they would surely have been silenced this morning.

Down at the Beijing H2O cube Phelps started his campaign with a world record performance of 4.03.84 in the 400m Individual Medley, a time that I once thought would be unattainable!!

At no point did Phelps look out of control and forged home in style.

There was an out of character display of emotion during his celebration and also on the victory podium where tears where shed.

After speaking to him earlier in the week I knew he was concerned about the 400IM more so than any of his other seven chances.


With him in this sort of form in the most demanding event on the Olympic swimming schedule, the rest of the world will be facing their own personal doubts and fears about the possibility of being crowned champions in their respective events.

Phelps seems to always deliver when things are in his control, so maybe it's the relays he should now become most concerned about.

The French men's 4x100m freestyle boast three men in the top 10 in the world this year and with world record holder Alain Bernard on the back end of the relay it will take an almighty effort by team Phelps/USA to ensure the dream of eight golds stays alive.


Although knowing Phelps, he will probably lead the relay off in a new world-record time for the 100m freestyle!

The women's 400m IM champion, Australia's Stephanie Rice, was determined not to be outdone by her male counterpart and also smashed the world record with a fantastic sub 4 minutes 30 seconds swim.

Kirsty Coventry from Zimbabwe was running her down all the way down the last length but ran out of room to eventually finish a few tenths of a second behind, also under the magic 4.30 barrier.

Great Britain's Hannah Miley finished a commendable 6th in the same race but in a testament to her own character was hard on herself about not doing better.

In the 400m freestyle final, Taehwan Park from South Korean always looked like winning and comfortably came in ahead of the home country favourite Lin Zhang.

In the women's 4x100m, 42-year-old Dara Torres put in a remarkable performance and was catching superstar Marleen Veldhuis on the final leg but unfortunately for the Americans (including president Bush who was in attendance) could not quite catch the flying Dutch woman!!

Francesca Halsall broke two records in one race by leading off the British relay team with a British record and Mel Marshal brought the team home in a time 3.38.18 to establish a new best for the national team.

In relation to other British interests Jemma Lowe went from 16th to 6th in the semi finals of the 100m butterfly and is now looking good to challenge for medals early on Monday morning.

Chris Cook was uncharacteristically disappointing being more than a second off his best time only good enough for 15th in the 100m breaststoke.

Things are looking good for Britian and even better for Phelps in Beijing on day two of the Olympic Games.

I've been proved wrong in thinking that swimming in the morning would have an adverse effect on time in the pool.

Steve Parry is a former Olympic medallist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 10:30am on 10 Aug 2008, alphadictator wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 10:43am on 10 Aug 2008, MattyGaston23 wrote:

    Stephanie Rice is Australian. She won our first gold. The Bronze medalist was the American Swimmer.

    Apart from that great article and Phelps deserves every accolade he receives. He is the new Ian Thorpe of world Swimming.

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  • 3. At 10:51am on 10 Aug 2008, Dr_Grammar wrote:

    I've no idea what the previous poster is on (rhino horn?), but perhaps it's to do with the fact that you said Stephaine Rice was from the USA. Anyone who actually watched the race would surely know that the US entrant (Hoff) came third and Rice is from Aus.

    If we're sending hundreds of random bloggers etc to the best hotels in China, perhaps one or two of them could take time out from the 'festivities' to check this sort of stuff - surely the least we could do after all the effort put in by the athletes, organisers and volunteers? I don't think this is pedantic, many of us follow which countries are winning medals, esp golds, and I think this is a fairly basic requirement of Olympic journalism. Thanks.

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  • 4. At 11:00am on 10 Aug 2008, Dr_Grammar wrote:

    #2 - so it's actually Stephanie Rice, and not Stephaine per the above? Come on BBC, let's try to get stuff like this right, at least for the gold medals. Bit embarrassing.

    Anyway, I'll stop moaning, guess the cocktails have been flowing in Beijing. Looking forward to the next race from that Mikael Felps, not a bad swimmer for an Aussie.

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  • 5. At 11:48am on 10 Aug 2008, aquacapita wrote:

    Especially embarrassing for a former Olympic medalist!

    Steve, PLEASE correct your posting!

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  • 6. At 11:53am on 10 Aug 2008, smilingWheretogo wrote:

    Dear BBC

    I would like to know who gave you the permission to re-name our country GBR, instead of Great Britain. Was it the prime Minster the queen, the archbishop of Canterbury, Mr floppy perhaps or even Wellington Bear, or shock, horror the Great British public?

    Is France now to be known as FR, or Germany as D, or Switzerland as CH?

    Why are you so obsessed with all things American, just because they us USA does not mean we have to copy them.

    Shame on you and use our name and stop abbreviating Great Britain.

    Tony Brown

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  • 7. At 12:16pm on 10 Aug 2008, Mbantua wrote:

    Certainly refreshing to see an Australian being labelled as an American instead of the British always claiming Australians as being British.

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  • 8. At 12:44pm on 10 Aug 2008, Tatruth wrote:

    That's true because we all know Australians were born in the outback to a marooned William Wallace with his fecund wife Molly Malone. Fortunately both of them understood and spoke fluently the modern language of Australian.

    Us English will claim anything exotic.

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  • 9. At 1:04pm on 10 Aug 2008, JonnyJoe wrote:

    The new Ian Thorpe? You've got to be kidding! Phelps eclipsed Thorpe years ago. Thorpe won 11 world titles, and 5 Olympic titles, Phelps already has 17 world titles and 7 Olympic titles, and this games has only just started... still a few years left in him, too ...Phelps will become the greatest ever.

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  • 10. At 1:59pm on 10 Aug 2008, MattyGaston23 wrote:

    at #9

    yeah, Phelps did, but Thorpe in his prime was unbeatable and everyone knew he was going to win when ever he entered the pool.
    Until now, i didnt honestly believe Phelps was "unbeatable", but after that performance, i now do.
    No doubting Phelps is going to become to greatest ever swimmer and he throughly deserves it!

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  • 11. At 4:07pm on 10 Aug 2008, Senglar wrote:

    at #6

    Everybody knows what GBR means; one doesn't need permission to write it. I thoroughly enjoyed the article without labouring myself with such pedantic nonsense.

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  • 12. At 6:11pm on 10 Aug 2008, teh4125 wrote:

    Steve wrote "The women's 400m IM champion, Australia's Stephanie Rice, was determined not to be outdone by her male counterpart..."

    Did I miss something? I think it's pretty clear that Steve knew Stephanie is an Aussie.

    I'm always impressed with Australia's Olympic performance. The country only has 20M people yet sent over 400 athletes. Australia is a great sporting country!

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  • 13. At 6:14pm on 10 Aug 2008, Vaughan_the_Prawn wrote:

    teh4125 - he's corrected it now...

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  • 14. At 6:40pm on 10 Aug 2008, keen-eye wrote:

    Whilst I have nothing but admiration for Phelps, his/USA team, has, in my opinion, soured his first Gold medal.
    The games are supposed to be sponsorship free, yet on his winning today, whilst still in the water, he removed his National swimming cap to reveal a second black cap with the name of a yoghurt (I presume), emblazened across the side, knowing that the television coverage would be immense.
    What with the American organization NBC paying the IOC millions of dollars to reschedule the finals to appease the American audience, just how much of these, and future Olympic games, are going to be spoilt by money over sportsmanship.

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  • 15. At 7:42pm on 10 Aug 2008, quickquip wrote:

    Phelps may become the winningest swimmer ever but the greatest ever Olympian is a little harder to prove. Wait and see how he does in the decathlon first. Sadly, Phelps had to mar this latest celebration - and blog - by posing for a photo op with that butcher Bush. Certainly, he leaves the rest of the world "facing their own personal doubts and fears", of the worst kind, far more than Phelps. Why does the unphotogennic Bush always find it necessary to horn in on these occassions. Maybe that's the silver (or bronze anyway) lining for Hoff - by finishing third she at least didn't have to endure a visit from that vile little cowboy president.

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  • 16. At 02:51am on 11 Aug 2008, nick1546 wrote:

    I don't normally do this comment posting business but thought on this occasion I had to....

    I'm a little confused as to why people are wasting their time criticising an article for it's use of the GBR acronym and a slight misspelling of Stephanie! I also happen to know that Steve's knowledge of World Swimming is second to none and he is extremely uinlikely not to have known the different nationalities of the respective 4x100 IM champions. (By the way, the article reads fine for me so I guess the said corrections have already been made?).

    On another note I think it is great to hear the opinion of a past Olympic medalist. I'm feeling very envious of all those who made it to Beijing and it's nice to see an old teammate giving a good review from one of the most stuning venues I have ever seen.

    Good luck Team GB, good luck Phelps, good luck Beijing! I hope the records continue to tumble. This could make for one of the most exciting Olympics by the pool ever.

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  • 17. At 03:41am on 11 Aug 2008, Orpheuscrew wrote:

    at #14

    You are wrong about Phelps.After reading your post I went back and watched the race again.The second hat only has his name on it along witth the flag and the speedo logo.He always wears two caps. I am sorry that you have to get up so early to watch swimming but if the BBC had spent 894 million dollars you could be watching it in your primetime...

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  • 18. At 06:40am on 11 Aug 2008, Claire S - BBC Sport wrote:

    Hi folks,
    In Steve's defence he rattled this off really quickly dashing from the finals in the Water Cube and back to the office here in the Broadcast Centre, before heading back to the pool for the heats. I should have spotted the Stephanie slip, apologies from me.
    As for GBR - our style on the BBC Sport website is GB - but the team are listed as GBR in all Olympic literature, start lists etc.

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  • 19. At 12:45pm on 11 Aug 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    I think every time that the British team is mentioned it should be referred to as "United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland, including Isle Of Man, and the Channel Islands, and it might include some British passport holders from Falkland Islands and Gibraltar as well, and that island whose name I forget that the British allow the US airfoirce to use as an airport"

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  • 20. At 7:41pm on 11 Aug 2008, Pius12 wrote:

    Steve, do you know why Michael Phelps isn't wearing this new full body suit which should give a 2% advantage?

    Has he a specific reason for not wearing it? Do you know if he tried it out?

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  • 21. At 01:19am on 12 Aug 2008, Toby wrote:

    Re: 19. LMAO, oh and its Ascension Island so the full title should be the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands, and maybe some British passport holders from the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar and Ascension Island.".. or UKGBNIIMCIPHFIGAI for short. Still im sure someone will point out something I've missed. Really who gets upset over the use of GBR, its the official three letter abbreviation for our country and saves having to write the full title out each time (hence the term abbreviation)?

    Re: 3,4 and 5: As for Steve's mistake, I didnt get to see it as the article has obviously been changed but gather from the post that he made out that Rice was American rather than Australian. Still, doesnt really deserve the reaction from some posters such as number 3. It was a simple mistake that everyone is capable of, I dont think its a reason to get all pent up over. To be honest you sound jealous to the fact that they're having a good time in Beijing and your stuck in some miserable job in UK.

    As for what the actual article was about, I think that Phelps is the real deal and will get all 8 (after that spectacular 4x100). He is a truly amazing athlete, and what is quite refreshing is that he's quite down to earth. He seems genuinely surprised and delighted by his success and doesn't come across as arrogant at all.

    Re: 14, 17. I'd have to agree with the later, I didnt notice any sponsorship on his underneath swimming hat.

    Anyway, Phelps goes again tonight, I'm looking forward to gold number 3. Also good luck Liam tonight in the 100m backstroke - another medal would be great for GBR (sorry, UKGBNIIMCIPHFIGAI lol).

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  • 22. At 01:38am on 12 Aug 2008, Dr_Grammar wrote:

    questionable1 - love the acronym (and post 19), will be using it henceforth!

    BTW, I'm not stuck in a miserable job in the UK, actually off to Beijing tomorrow. Apologies if my tone in #3 was overly critical (there are enough rants on these boards after all), but I was a bit annoyed. I had a quick read of this, had it in my head that the USA got the gold, and then watched the event and kept expecting the US to come through at the end, so it spoilt it for me somewhat. I thought that getting at least the nationality of the gold winners correct was important and that we had enough BBC manpower in China to accomplish this!

    Will attempt to be more diplomatic next time.

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  • 23. At 2:03pm on 12 Aug 2008, PearlJam88 wrote:

    Great article! I am so enjoying watching great athletes prove themselves on the world stage! Especially the underdogs that are dismissed or counted out! Phenomenal to have even made it to this level and then to achieve more than expected! Phelps is a phenom in his own right! A true Olympian, eats, sleeps and swims.Constant devotion to his craft! It shows in his performances! The detractors and naysayers are only jealous. Let a hero be a hero! Let him and others that achieve their dreams be the symbols for our children that dreams can and do come true! That dedication, perseverance, and sheer will can be our ally!
    Our children need role models now more than ever! Teach them what these amazing athletes are! Show them what character really means! They are our hope for the future!!!!

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  • 24. At 2:10pm on 12 Aug 2008, PearlJam88 wrote:

    Post Script ~
    Being an American lad I have to say I appreciate that the rest of the world sees Bush for what he is, an opportunistic blow bag. Most of us are ready for a change and ready for his regime to come to an end. America is a good country with solid people at it's core. Someday, in the near future that will be the sentiment shared round the globe again! But as of today, that still remains my hope!

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  • 25. At 01:35am on 13 Aug 2008, GunnerVelafan wrote:

    , and then watched the event and kept expecting the US to come through at the end, so it spoilt it for me somewhat.

    what so u prefer the dullness of watchin a race that you know who has won rather than the excitement of watching a race where u got no idea. you sound really sad

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  • 26. At 01:36am on 13 Aug 2008, GunnerVelafan wrote:

    say what ya will about bush, it was as much tony blairs fault for the war in iraq

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