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Best or last? Phelps achieves emotional win in the 400m individual medley
16:34, August 10, 2008

Surpassing the previous world record mark extraordinarily in a full body length, American super fish Michael Phelps started his quest for eight golds at the Beijing Olympics here on Sunday with a sensational win in the men's 400-meter individual medley final.

Was it the best of him in this morning's first race?

"I'm in my best shape," said Phelps after slicing 1.41 second off his previous world record of four minutes 5.25 seconds. "I had improved two and a half seconds since last year."

Phelps has owned the 400m individual medley world record since 2002, and lowered it seven time ahead of the Olympic Games.

"But I don't know if I'm fully tapered." The prodigy, who grabbed six gold medals in Athens four years ago hinted a more expecting future for himself.

However, it probably the last 400m individual medley race for Phelps, as the 23-year-old versatile swimmer confirmed his plan of focusing on the sprint events.

Phelps said, when he told his coach Bob Bowman that he wanted it to be his last 400meter individual medley race in his career, Bowman said he had to end it in a world record.

"About 6:30 this morning, I was going down to the pool in the Athletes' Village. I joked around by saying 'I guess it could be the last one'.

"Now he said back there, 'We'll have to talk'. But in my opinion, that's my last one," said Phelps.

Phelps said the 400m four stroke was one of the hardest events in the pool and he just wanted to have different approaches in the future.

Instead of grinning outright as usual during the medal ceremony, the three time Olympian was so emotional on the podium and his eyes flickered with tears while the U.S. national anthem was performed.

"I don't know why. I wanted to sing during the medal ceremony, but I can't help crying," said Phelps.

"I started to thinking about everything this year, the ups and downs I had this year. You know Ryan (Lochte) comes like a free train. I was happy to get the first. you know, began thinking about that just make me more and more emotional.

"Thinking about representing your country and having many backups...I got so many text messages from my bunch of friends, everybody is watching at home... That's really emotional," a high-spirited Phelps held forth in the press conference.

Phelps should be emotional also because of the arrive of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Bush came to the Water Cube Sunday morning together with first Lady Laura Bush, daughter Barbara Bush and father, former President George H.W. Bush.

"To have the President coming watch is pretty cool. I looked up and saw him waving the flag. That's pretty cool to have the President say congratulations," said Phelps.

Phelps didn't believe that the overwhelming excitement on Sunday would hinder his performance in the following events.

"I'll put the race behind me like it has never happened. It's easier for me to do because I have had many races like this before. I'll prepare myself for the 200m free," Phelps said.

The heats of the men's 200m freestyle will be held Sunday evening. As the world champion and world record holder in the event, Phelps is expected to polish the bronze medal in Athens into gold.

Source: Xinhua

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