Phelps wins to join elite Olympic group

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Beijing, Aug 11: U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps carved his name among Olympic greats on Tuesday, winning a record-equaling ninth gold on a dominant morning for Americans in the pool.

Only U.S. athlete Carl Lewis, U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz, Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina have won as many golds as Phelps, who could better them all on Wednesday when he swims in two more finals. Phelps now threatens to rewrite many pages of the sporting records in a phenomenal individual display in Beijing.

His third gold in the Chinese capital keeps him on his long march to a target of eight wins. That would better Spitz's 1972 tally of seven golds in one Olympics.

Spitz set world record times in all of his victories at the Munich Games, a feat which Phelps could also eclipse. Each of Phelps' Beijing golds has come in a new world best time.

The lanky 23-year-old American was in imperious form in the 200m freestyle final, leading from the start and pulling a body length clear by the halfway stage. He hit the wall in 1:42:96 to destroy his own world record by 0.90 seconds.

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