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Phelps's seventh gold doubted by eyes but comfirmed by timing system
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14:54, August 16, 2008

Michael Phelps clinched his seventh title in a row at the Beijing Olympics here on Saturday. But the 0.01 second winning margin couldn't convince the eyes and the Serbian team did protest for their runnerup Milorad Cavic but in vain.

Coming upon the deck as the defending Olympic champion, Phelps was about half a body length behind Cavic in the first lap and was the seventh to touch wall in the first 50 meters. But the 23-year-old wunderkind splashed ahead after the turn and made a shocking finish in 50.58 seconds to edge the Serbian by the closest margin.

Even the superfish himself could not believe his win at the first moment. "I have no idea. I didn't know. I was just trying to hurt a little, trying like the last ten meters.

"When I took that last stroke I thought I lost the race there, but it turns out that was the difference," said Phelps.

After the race, the Serbian team filed an official protest to question the result, but race referees and swimming governing body FINA officials insisted the result is valid.

Ben Ekumbo, the head referee of the the race from Kenya said at a FINA press conference later, "Under our rules, we do listen to protests. We made the review, before we could give an answer to Serbia.

"I personally looked at the video footage from Omega. And it was clear the Serbian swimmer touched second after Michael Phelps. It is evident from the video that it was an issue of stroking. On was stroking and the other was gliding. "

"So according to our rules, we used automatic timing systems, and the timing system in this case, Omega was in perfect condition. It was in perfect order. And there are no doubts that it provides for the competition of this Olympic Games."

Cavic, who grabbed the first Olympic medal for Serbia didn't want to protest himself.

"I wish I were the gold medalist, but you know I pick the silver medal and I'm very comfortable with this," said Cavic.

The sprinter admitted that he saw the replay a few minutes after his race and overheard something about there being a protest from his team.

"But I'm not thinking about it. For me, it's an incredible feat. If you ask me, I'm not about fighting it. I know I had a long finish and Michael Phelps had a short finish. That's all. I'm not angry at all," Cavic said.

Cavic thought technology was all doing perfect but "everything is possible" such as a reporter said "you have won the race but didn't be recorded".

"But it's not something I'm focusing on so I can't elaborate more about that. The hand is quicker than the eye...Too bad that we can't have both finish at 50.58 seconds. I would have loved to share that gold medal, but I've taken what I got, so I'm very very happy."

Phelps said had no idea of the protest and only noticed his teammate Ian Crocker who finished fourth during the race.

"I knew I had to be within a half body length. Racing against Crocker, being able to judge on where I need to be at the 50 meters to make up the ground. I sort of looked at Crocker with the side of my eyes. I had no idea of the protest," said Phelps.

According to Ekumbo, the Serbian team were very satisfied. "They agreed with the comments by the referee. In the sport manner, we gave them the opportunity to look at the video. For them to be sure that the decision is correct."


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