|ESPN.com: Summer 2008||[Print without images]|
|Next up for Michael Phelps? Two finals (200 fly and 4x200 free relay) Wednesday morning (Beijing time).|
"Four years ago, I just wanted to race," Phelps said, evidently expecting reporters to believe he didn't also care about winning. "I hate to lose, and getting third in the 200 free four years ago -- when I do lose in a race like that, it motivates me even more to get better. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I'm not. In the last four years, I've been able to make some pretty significant drops in the 200 free." Phelps won the race Tuesday with a world-record time of 1:42.96 that was more than 2½ seconds faster than his time in Athens. It also was nearly two seconds faster than the time of Korean silver medalist Park Tae-hwan. Park is a strong enough finisher that Phelps was concerned about him. "Being in Lane 6, I wasn't out in the middle of the pool," Phelps said. "I knew if I jumped on the first 100 meters, those guys in the middle wouldn't be able to see me. Hopefully I would have enough ground where I would be able to hold them off. It was a good race. I knew Tae-hwan was going to finish strong, so I knew I had to be more than a body length ahead of him at 150." That wasn't a problem. Phelps started so quickly that he was almost an arm ahead of everyone else by the first stroke of the race. He steadily added to that lead as the race continued, and Park had no chance to catch him. Phelps had enough time to touch the wall, see his world-record time, celebrate and call to see when the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Olympic Village closes. "Phelps swam so fast," Park said. "It is my honor to compete with him." Phelps faces another big day Wednesday. He'll race for gold in both the 200 fly and the 4x200 free relay with only an hour of recovery time in between. "I'm not even halfway done yet. I'm just about halfway done with my races," he said. "I think the most important ones are the ones coming up. I'm lucky enough to have a recovery session this afternoon and be able to catch up on my sleep as much as I can. [Wednesday] is a pretty big morning with the finals in the fly and the relay." Yes, a very big day. Better order the manicotti formaggio and the ravioli di portobello. And maybe the tiramisu, just to be on the safe side. Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached here. His Web site is at jimcaple.net.