Phelps’ in best form of life


Michael Phelps warned Saturday he had never felt better as he attempts to win an unprecedented eight Olympic gold medals, but made clear he does not want to be remembered as ‘the second Mark Spitz’.
The American swimming sensation, training in Singapore, is poised to make Olympic history in Beijing by bettering Spitz’s record of seven gold medals at one Games.
He fell short of that goal in Athens four years ago, coming away with a still impressive six gold medals and two bronze.
The 23-year-old will swim the same events in Beijing that he tackled in Athens: the 200m and 400m individual medleys, the 100m and 200m butterflies, the 200m freestyle, and the three relays.
He holds the world record in four them - the 200m freestyle, 200m butterfly and the 200m and 400m individual medleys. US teammate Ian Crocker holds the 100m butterfly record, but trails in his head-to-head rivalry with Phelps.
While Phelps admits to being in his best form ever, he is riled with comparisons to Spitz.
‘As far as the Mark Spitz thing goes, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again,’ he said.
‘I want to be the first Michael Phelps and not the second Mark Spitz.
‘I don’t mean to downplay his accomplishments by any means. For what he did, it was and still is, the greatest Olympic performance of all time.
‘He will always be remembered as one of the great Olympians of all time. I’m just lucky that I can be in a position to hopefully do something different to him.
‘I’m just focused on what my goals are.’
Ahead of Beijing the American team has been training at the Singapore Island Country Club and Phelps said it had been the perfect preparation to his Olympic quest.
‘I’ve felt the best ever in the water here,’ he said. ‘Who knows what will happen in Beijing, time will tell.
‘But I’m happy with where I am right now, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to going to Beijing and hopefully having a good meet.
‘As of right now I feel the best I have ever felt.’
A year ago it was a different story after he broke his wrist, believing then that it had ruined his 2008 chances. But his performance at the US trials, with five victories in five events and two world records (in the medleys), showed he had recovered from that setback. ‘This year has been up and down. I’ve had some life changing experiences and been able to get through them and get here,’ he said.
‘I’m swimming well, feeling good in the water and I’m ready to compete.’ Another incentive for Phelps to equal or break the Spitz record is an offer by Speedo to pay him one million dollars if he reaches the magic number. Australian swimming great Grant Hackett said this week he felt Phelps could reach the landmark, but the American is not keen to dwell on his record attempt, going so far as to play down his chances of winning any gold.
‘The only pressure I get is from you guys,’ he said when asked if the expectations were weighing on his mind. ‘If I can come in faster than what I was at the trials then that means I am successful. If that means not winning gold medals then that is fine, I am still successful.’

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