Phelps continues run to record gold haul

The sun peeped out at the Beijing Olympics on Friday, a day when it appeared nothing could rain on Michael Phelps' parade to a record gold medal haul.

updated: August 22, 2008 09:10 IST
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The sun peeped out at the Beijing Olympics on Friday, a day when it appeared nothing could rain on Michael Phelps' parade to a record gold medal haul.

Heavy showers that postponed and suspended many competitions on Thursday gave way to blue skies even minus any hint of smog.

Spectators donned sunglasses in the Water Cube to watch Phelps make it 6-for-6, winning another gold medal and closing in on Mark Spitz with another world record.

Phelps dominated right from the start of the 200-meter individual medley and won in 1 minute, 54.23 seconds. He knocked off his own mark of 1:54.80 set at last month's U.S. trials, his sixth world record of the games.

Phelps is already the most successful athlete in Olympic history with 12 career golds, but his sights are on eight at the Beijing Games. He is just one gold away from tying Spitz's record of seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Phelps returned right after the medal ceremony for the 100 butterfly semifinals, where he qualified second-fastest and set himself to tie Spitz's total in the final on Saturday. He could break the record if the heavily favored U.S. wins the 4x100-meter medley relay on Sunday.

"There wasn't much time," Phelps said, "but I think there's going to be a lot of time for me to rest over the next 18 hours or so, and I'll be able to be ready for tomorrow morning's 100."

Rebecca Soni of the United States set a world record in the 200 breaststroke. Leisel Jones of Australia was out front over the first 100, but Soni came on strong at the end, finishing a full body length ahead of the Australian in 2:20.22 to beat Jones' mark of 2:20.54, set two 2 years ago in Melbourne.

Britta Steffen of Germany won the 100 freestyle, edging Libby Trickett of Australia by four-hundredths of a second.

Athletics cranked up at the Bird's Nest, with some pretty heady qualifying races the men's 100 meters.

Tyson Gay showed no ill effects from a lingering hamstring strain, easily qualifying for the quarterfinals along with Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell.

"It feels good," Gay said. "My body is woke up."

Gay's reassuring performance kept the games on track for a defining three-way battle for gold in the sport's marquee event on Saturday.

Bolt won his heat in 10.20, and Powell coasted into the quarterfinals in 10.16.

The games were hit by several off-field controversies Friday. A two-time North Korean medalist in shooting and a Vietnamese gymnast both failed doping tests and were kicked out of the games after testing positive for banned substances.

Shooter Kim Jong Su was stripped of his silver medal Friday in the 50-meter pistol and bronze in the 10-meter air pistol. Gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do finished in 82nd and last place in the women's floor exercises.

They are the second and third athletes caught for doping in Beijing. Spanish cyclist Maria Isabel Moreno was kicked out of the games on Monday after testing positive for EPO.

A Swedish wrestler who dropped his bronze medal in disgust could face sanctions from the IOC, which has opened a disciplinary investigation into the actions of Ara Abrahamian. He lost to gold medalist Andrea Minguzzi of Italy in the semifinals of the men's 84-kilogram Greco-Roman event.

During the medal ceremony, Abrahamian took the bronze from around his neck and, in disgust, dropped it on the mat as he walked away.

"The disciplinary commission is looking into this," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. "They are in touch with the international federation to get all the facts."

Abrahamian had to be restrained from going after the matside officials following his loss to Minguzzi and, storming away from the mixed zone where interviews are conducted, slammed a door.

Artur Ayvazian of Ukraine won gold in the men's 50-meter prone rifle Friday, holding off Matt Emmons of the United States in the final round.

Also, Athens 2004 gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor overcame five set points in the first set to beat Belgium 24-22, 21-10 and advance to the quarterfinals of beach volleyball.

Liesbeth Mouha and Liesbet van Breedam led 18-12 and 20-17 in the first set of the best-of-three. Beach volleyball matches are up to 21, but the team must win by two, so it wasn't until May-Treanor and Walsh scored three straight points after trailing 22-21 that they secured the set.

It was the 105th consecutive victory for the Americans, who won the gold medal in Athens and have been playing partners since 2001.