We knew this day was coming. We held out as long as we could (honest!), but who else could be our Olympic Stud of the Day but the unstoppable Michael Phelps? The 23-year-old human fish not only captured his seventh gold medal in the 100M butterfly, tying Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record for most golds won in a single Olympiad, but Phelps did it by the narrowest margin possible — one one hundredth of a second. The race was so infinitesimally close, that if it weren’t for the electronic touch pads fixed to the pool wall, no one would have believed Phelps had finished first. (His own mother was waving two fingers signaling a silver medal finish.)
What made his seventh win even more jaw dropping (and believe me, my jaw dropped), was the fact that at the turn he was seventh out of eight swimmers. He made up significant ground (or would it be water?) in the final seconds, but when frontrunner Milorad Cavic of Serbia reached for the wall while Phelps was in the midst of his final half stroke, it looked as though the University of Michigan student’s dream of eight gold medals was done for. But this is Michael Phelps we’re talking about. The phenom inexplicably managed to circle his beanstalk arms around and touch the wall just before Cavic could glide to victory. Races just don’t get better — or closer — than that. Phelps will have the chance to best his and Spitz’s record tomorrow as he swims his last race, the butterfly leg of the 4 x 100M medley relay. Whether he wins or loses, Phelps has accomplished something only one other person in history can say he’s done. And in my book, that’s pretty neat.
Honorable mentions: Though Phelps stood atop the medal podium, it was the tall, dark, and dreamy silver place finisher Cavic and blond bronze medalist Andrew Lauterstein of Australia who held my attention. Meanwhile, another swimmer, 41-year-old mom Dara Torres, deserves props for halting the start of her 50M heat until a fellow competitor could slink into a new suit after hers ripped. And on the track, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt ran his quarter final 100M dash in a speedy 9.92 seconds but made it look as though it required no more energy or concentration than a Sunday afternoon jog through Central Park.
Now it’s your turn: Nominate your own Olympic Stud of the Day* — or second ours — below. (Then click here to check out our winning Studs from the previous days in Beijing.)
* Not just a man or woman who turns us on. (Necessarily.)