News Coronavirus On This Day: US swimmer Michael Phelps dominates Beijing Olympics
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On This Day: US swimmer Michael Phelps dominates Beijing Olympics

Michael Phelps celebrates after winning the men's 400m Individual Medley final at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Photo: Getty
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The Baltimore Bullet, Mr Swimming or the Flying Fish.

With his long torso and flipper-like feet, Olympian Michael Phelps attracted many nicknames throughout his impressive career.

On this day at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the American truly proved he was made for powering through water.

In front of screaming crowds, Phelps smashed the men’s 400 metre Individual Medley event, beating his own world record and claiming his first Olympic gold.

At the time, teammate Ryan Lochte was expected to be a major contender for the gold medal.

But Phelps pulled away from him on the breaststroke leg, then opened up his lead on the freestyle leg to a strong finish in 4:03.84 – more than a second faster than his record from the US Olympic Trials.

Michael Phelps competing in the men’s 400m Individual Medley final. Photo: Getty

And it wasn’t just the Americans celebrating that day.

Laszlo Cseh, from Hungary, won his first Olympic silver medal at the Beijing Games, setting a European record of 4:06.16.

Lochte dropped off and faded toward the end of the race, winning bronze in 4:08.09.

Phelps, on the other hand, went on to win eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, breaking fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of seven first-place finishes at any single Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps celebrates after winning his seventh gold of the 2008 Olympics by claiming a close victory in the 100m butterfly. Photo: Getty

Four years earlier, at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Phelps had already tied the record of eight medals of any colour at a single Games by winning six gold and two bronze medals.

In the following years, his winning streak continued.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Phelps won four gold and two silver medals, and at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won five gold medals and one silver.

The Flying Fish was unstoppable.

Michael Phelps receiving his gold medal for the 400m Individual Medley. Photo: Getty

Before the coronavirus pandemic, rumours were circulating that Phelps might return to swimming to dominate yet another Olympics, but that won’t be happening.

The 35-year-old has hung up his swimming cap and goggles and is now focused on removing the stigma around mental health.