Last night Michael Phelps won his first gold metal! He won the 400 IM and set a world record of 4 minutes 8.26 seconds the third time he's broken the record this year. When Phelps saw he had won in world-record time, he put his hands to his head and unleashed the widest smile his coach has ever seen.
"I've thought about this every day for my whole entire swimming career," Phelps said. "Standing on the Olympic podium is something I've always wanted to do. It's an amazing feeling."
Last year, Phelps signed his name to a contract with swimming apparel sponsor Speedo that gives him a $1 million bonus if he matches Mark Spitz's 1972 haul of seven Olympic gold medals. But coming into the Games, his mantra was that his only goal was to win one gold medal.
"My gold is right here," he said Saturday, lifting it off his chest. "I'm perfectly happy right now."
Phelps is entered in four more individual events in Athens and is eligible for three relays. Two of his most-watched events begin Sunday, as he swims qualifying heats for a possible showdown with Australian Ian Thorpe in the 200 freestyle and possibly competes in the 4x100 free relay. The question of whether to include Phelps, who didn't swim in the 100 free at the U.S. Olympic trials last month, has been a source of minor controversy on the U.S. team.
``He has set the bar extremely high for himself,'' said Bob Bowman, the man who has coached Phelps the past eight years. ``If it were any one else, I might tell them they were being totally unrealistic. But there's something special about this young man. He has the perfect body, mind, skills and motivation to give something like this a legitimate shot. It won't be easy, but it's definitely not unrealistic in his case.''
So I really, really, really, a million reallys, want Michael Phelps to win his 7 or 8 gold metals. He has to win at least 6 to get put on the last relay!