NPR logo Teammate Keeps Phelps' Olympic Gold Sweep Alive

Teammate Keeps Phelps' Olympic Gold Sweep Alive

Competing For Gold

LeBron James of the U.S. jumps over China's Yao Ming during a men's preliminary round basketball match at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Aug. 10, 2008. The U.S. won the game 101-70. Abriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Abriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

LeBron James of the U.S. jumps over China's Yao Ming during a men's preliminary round basketball match at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Aug. 10, 2008. The U.S. won the game 101-70.

Abriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

For American superstroker Michael Phelps, the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing are going swimmingly.

He has won two gold medals so far, and his 400-meter freestyle relay team set a world record. Spurred on by the trash talk of the French team, the Americans shut everyone up by pulling out a rabbit-from-a-hat victory.

On the first leg of the relay, Phelps fell behind to Eamon Sullivan of Australia, who broke the 100-meter world record with his 47.24 performance. The U.S. took the lead in the second phase. But going into the last down-and-back, the powerful French were visibly in front. In fact, French stroker Alain Bernard looked unbeatable — until American Jason Lezak kicked into warp speed and delivered a 46.06 leg that clinched the gold.

'It Was Unreal'

"When I flipped at the 50 and I still saw how far ahead he was, and he was the world record holder, a thought really crossed my mind for a split second: 'There's no way,' " Lezak said. "And then I changed. I said, 'You know what? That's ridiculous. It's the Olympics and I'm here for the United States of America. And I don't care how bad it hurts or whatever. I'm just gonna go out there.' ... Honestly in like 5 seconds, I was thinking all these things and just got like a supercharge and just took it from there. ... It was unreal."

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French swimmer Amaury Leveaux's response to the American success: "A fingertip did the victory. It is nothing."

Up to now, the U.S. has three gold medals and 11 overall. China has six golds and eight overall. South Korea continued its domination of women's archery, winning its sixth gold medal in as many Olympics. David Kostelecky of the Czech Republic won the trapshooting gold medal. Home team China won gold medals in judo, weightlifting and diving, among other events.

In the women's swimming competition, Katie Hoff has won two medals like fellow American Phelps — only different colors. On Sunday, Hoff won a bronze in the 400-meter individual medley, and she won a silver in Monday's 400-meter freestyle.

U.S. Dominates China In Basketball

The U.S. basketball team chilled China — and its favorite NBA son, Yao Ming — 101-70. Dwayne Wade dropped in 19, and LeBron James added 18. The ego-loaded U.S. team played well together, and if the apparent harmony and success continue, basketball fans will know that despite America's stunning loss in 2004 to Argentina, the U.S. is still the dominant force in world basketball — and that Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski can most definitely coach on a professional level.

Krzyzewski told reporters: "We have a saying back home that when you're good, you play for the name on the front of your jersey instead of the name on the back. Our guys all play for the name on the front of their jersey."

Disappointments? There have been a few. American breast stroker Brendan Hansen lost his 100-meter world record and didn't win a medal.

Australian freestyler Grant Hackett, favored to win the 400-meter race, came in sixth. Maria Isabel Moreno, a Spanish bicyclist, was barred from participation when she tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

From NPR and Associated Press reports