Michael Phelps' dream of a record eight gold medals was dramatically kept alive by teammate Jason Lezak in a 4x100m freestyle relay thriller Monday, while the first drugs scandal of the Beijing Olympics emerged.

The win gave Phelps two golds from two events, but the kudos went to US relay anchor Lezak who dived into the pool more than a body length behind France's Alain Bernard and made up the deficit with his final strokes.At 50m to go Lezak told himself there was "no way" he could catch Bernard and save Phelps' quest."Then I thought: 'That's ridiculous, this is an Olympic Games. You have to go for it'," he said.

The US took an astonishing four seconds off the world record they had set in the heats the previous day, posting a new mark of 3min 08.24 sec."Unbelievable!" said Phelps. "Jason finished that race way better than we could have even asked for."The last 10 to 15 metres were incredible.

I lost my voice, and I was definitely pretty emotional after that."Such was the pace of the race, Australia's Eamon Sullivan added to Bernard's heartache when he broke the Frenchman's 100m freestyle world record as he headed Phelps in the lead-off leg.

Despite the win, the United States remained third in the medals table at the end of the third day of competition with three gold medals behind hosts China with nine after the completion of 34 events, and South Korea with four.

China won three gold Monday, including one by Lin Yue and Huo Liang in the men's synchronised 10m platform dive where British 14-year-old Tom Daley was a distant eighth and last with teammate Blake Aldridge.Zhang Xiangxiang and Chen Yanqing also claimed gold in weightlifting.

Phelps, who began his unprecedented eight-gold quest on Sunday with a world record win in the 400m individual medley, raced three times Monday, qualifying fourth fastest in the 200m freestyle an hour before the relay in the morning.

The 23-year-old then returned in the evening to break the Olympic record in his 200m butterfly heat.Beijing's unique swimming venue continued to churn out world records with a total of five more on Monday.


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