Eight Badminton Players Disqualified From Olympics

The female badminton players have been booted from the London Olympics for purposely trying to lose. The players from Indonesia, South Korea and China had been charged with "throwing" group stage contests to secure an easier draw through the Olympic tournament.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Olympics are a quest to be the best. But some Olympians are accused of purposely playing badly at badminton. The Badminton World Federation has launched disciplinary proceedings against four women's doubles pairs. First, the world champions, who are Chinese, faced off against opponents from South Korea. And spectators started booing when the players seemed to be making simple errors on purpose.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Chinese women lost, ensuring they'd be playing against their No. 2-seeded Chinese teammates until the badminton final - which gave them an excellent chance at getting into the finals. Then, it appeared another match was thrown when a different South Korean team played an Indonesian team. A disciplinary commission is under way in London.

INSKEEP: Nobody was booing when American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever. Two medals yesterday in London broke a 48-year-old record. Phelps has, now, 19 Olympic medals total. NPR's Howard Berkes reports from London.

HOWARD BERKES, BYLINE: Michael Phelps was a little sloppy on his way to breaking one of the most enduring records of the Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Take your mark.

(SOUNDBITE OF START BUZZER, CHEERING)

BERKES: This was the first swim of the night for Phelps - the 200-meter butterfly, one of his best events. He set the world record, had the best time this year, and took the event in the last two Olympics. He led the whole way, and seemed to be easing into the wall for the win with just a few feet to go. But South Africa's Chad Le Clos had been gaining, and surged with his last stroke to win, by just five-hundredths of a second.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

BERKES: It ended just like the 100 fly at the Beijing Olympics four years ago. Phelps won then with a full stroke and surge, the same move that beat him last night. Le Clos told reporters he has video on his laptop, in seven different languages, showing the 2008 move that earned Phelps a gold medal.

CHAD LE CLOS: Obviously, watching all Michael's races, I knew that he finished strong. And he used his last underwater to his advantage. I think it sounds crazy, but I actually thought I was Michael that last turn. Because - you know, I - I just remember, you know, how he used to do it. And, you know, when I turned, I turned that way, and I looked at him.

BERKES: Emulating Michael Phelps helped Le Clos win, but the silver for second tied the record for the biggest horde of Olympic medals. Still, Phelps found the runner-up position in the race.

MICHAEL PHELPS: A little frustrating but, you know, after that I tried to just kind of shut that out of my head and put it behind me, and get ready for this relay.

BERKES: The 4-by-200 freestyle relay began with Phelps telling his three teammates to give him the biggest lead they could. And they did. Ryan Lochte started off at world-record time. And by the time Phelps hit the water for the final 200, he had two body lengths on his closest competitor. The win gave Phelps and his teammates a gold medal - number 15 for Phelps. And it brought him to 19 Olympic medals overall - more than anyone in Olympic history.

PHELPS: You know, the biggest thing that I've always said is, anything is possible. And I have put my mind on doing something that nobody had ever done before, and there was nothing that was going to stand in my way.

BERKES: There isn't an athlete competing today who is anywhere close to the record. And before Phelps came along, the record stood since 1964. That's 21 years before Phelps was born. Still, this is how Phelps responded when a reporter asked him if the 19-medal mark is untouchable.

PHELPS: Nothing is untouchable.

BERKES: Phelps has at least two more chances in London to add to his own boatload of medals. He has the 200 individual medley Thursday, and the 100 butterfly Friday. And when London Olympics swimming ends Saturday, Phelps will hang up his Olympic goggles and swimsuit, for good.

Howard Berkes, NPR News, London.

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