- 10 Aug 08, 08:35 AM
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.
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