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'Phelps is from a different planet'
August 13, 2008 14:35 IST
To some of his rivals, Michael Phelps [Images] is a swimming Superman.
"A different galaxy," the Russian said with a smile when asked to expand. "(No) he's from this planet, of course, but he's just tremendously talented."
Five Beijing [Images] golds, with a world record accompanying each, have launched the 23-year-old Phelps beyond nine-gold winners Paavo Nurmi [Images], Larysa Latynina [Images], Mark Spitz [Images] and Carl Lewis [Images], and three more in his sights would make it a stratospheric 14.
"Now to be the most decorated Olympian of all time, it just sounds weird saying (it). I have absolutely nothing to say, I'm speechless," the American said after adding 200 butterfly and relay gold on Wednesday.
"It started sinking in a little bit after the butterfly. I was trying to focus on my next race, I was just thinking 'wow, the greatest Olympian of all time'.
"It's a pretty cool thing, it's a pretty cool title, I guess you could say. It's pretty neat and I'm definitely honoured."
Phelps still has more to achieve in Beijing. Three more golds would take him past the seven Spitz achieved at the 1972 Munich Games and he is now one individual world record away from matching Spitz's record total of 26.
"It's not over yet, anything can happen in the next three events... I'm not unbeatable, no one's unbeatable, everyone can be beat," Phelps said.
Ever the perfectionist, Wednesday's racing was not all it might have been for Phelps because his goggles filled with water in the 200 butterfly, even if not enough to stop him breaking his own world record.
"I was just disappointed that I know I can go faster than that," he said.
Six golds in Athens, five so far in Beijing, but the experience "never ever gets old".
"When you have an Olympic [Images] gold medal it stays with you for ever. That never leaves your side. You're always an Olympic gold medallist," he said.
"Birthday happens every year, Christmas happens every year. You only get to be Olympic gold medallist so many times.
"This is almost everything I've asked for. I would like to have been faster in the 200 fly but in the circumstances I think I handled myself pretty well."
"This is something we've been preparing for the last four years and I think all the work is starting to pay off and starting to show."
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