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Michael's a marvel

The Rediff Team | August 21, 2004

They say, Michael Phelps is as good as Mark Spitz. That, by any yardstick, is saying a lot.

Michael PhelpsThe whole world compares him with Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games. While the comparison was justified, it also meant that the 19-year-old American was under tremendous pressure coming into the Athens Olympics.

He responded by doing exactly what he set out to do.

On Friday, he won the 100 metres butterfly to take his medal tally to seven -- five gold and two bronze -- and equal Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to win seven medals at a single Olympics.

He was in line for a record eight medals, but pulled out of Saturday's 4x100 metres medley relay final to give team mate Ian Crocker the chance to swim..

Phelps turned professional almost two years before graduating from high school, when he signed a reported six-figure contract with Speedo in October 2001.

His coach, Bob Bowman, feels that he has an incredible ability to relax and focus under pressure. And that is something that can't be coached.

So how does the best swimmer in the world relax before a race? By listening to rap, of course.

He listens to music on a Walkman as he walks out on the pool deck before a race. His favorites include Eminem, DMX's "Party Up" and MAC 10's "Connected for Life."

Michael Phelps is, without any doubt, our Olympian of the day.

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