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Phelps will better my record, says Spitz

July 05, 2008 14:52 IST
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Mark Spitz believes not only will Michael Phelps better his record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics next month in Beijing but he will do it breathtaking style.

"I would say, based on his experience that he gained trying to do it four years and based on what I've seen on TV, that he has a great chance at doing it," said Spitz, who arrived at the US Olympic trials on Friday to get an up-close look at the swimmer who has targeted his record.

"I would expect that in a month from now you are going to see him win by margins and set times that have never been done before.

"He will be unbelievable ... he's going to do a little schooling for the rest of the world and it's going to be exciting."

Spitz, who swam his way into Olympic history at the 1972 Munich Games, breaking a staggering seven world records on his way to the seven golds, provided some unique insight in the challenges awaiting Phelps.

Phelps narrowly missed out on matching that mark four years ago at the Athens Olympics, where he won six gold and Spitz believes that experience will stand him in good stead in Beijing.

The 23-year-old has already qualified for Olympic spots in three individual events (400 metres individual medley, 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly) and will try to add two more (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly) to his lineup along with three relays for a total of eight events.


But Spitz, perhaps more than anyone else except Phelps himself, knows dangers lurk everywhere at the Games.

"I'm not a betting man, and I'm not going to wager on this in Las Vegas but if I had to handicap his chances I see three areas he could run into difficulty," he said.

"One, is the very first event because you need to obviously get off to a win.

"He has no control over the relays. There's always a risk of someone false starting or the team that tries to place them in the finals doesn't get there. Who knows?

"And the third thing -- the only event he doesn't hold the world record in -- which is the 100 butterfly, if he can continue his winning ways.

"I watched him win by a hundredth of a second in Athens ...that is probably one of the most difficult races he will have to swim."

Not everyone, however, is a convinced as Spitz that Olympic history awaits Phelps in Beijing.

Another American swimming great Matt Biondi, who won five golds at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, believes there are too many hurdles to clear and Phelps is likely to be tripped up.

"I hope he does it but I think the odds are against him," said Biondi. "We're all going to watch and see if he can do it and what story develops.

"I sure hope he does but there are always upsets in sports."

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