=== Phelps wins eighth medal sitting in the stands ===
Athens, Greece (Sports Network) - Ian Crocker and his teammates vindicated
Michael Phelps' decision, and handed the Athens Games poster boy a historic
eighth medal Saturday night.
Phelps claimed medal No. 8 when the U.S. team of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen,
Crocker and Jason Lezak won gold in the 400-meter medley relay by swimming it
in a world record time of 3 minutes, 30.68 seconds.
"People will always remember [this]," Hansen said. "We are strong, we are
proud, we are happy to win."
Phelps finished with six golds and two bronzes in Athens, which moved him into
a tie with Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin's 1980 record for the most medals
won at one Olympics.
The 19-year-old phenom watched the relay from the stands, having surrendered
his butterfly slot to Crocker after beating his friend in the 100-meter
butterfly Friday to tie Mark Spitz for the most individual swimming golds won.
But he picked up his sixth gold anyway, by virtue of his participation in the
And for their part, the four American swimmers -- three of them world record
holders in their disciplines -- did what the U.S. men always do in swimming
relays, they won gold.
Piersol's leadoff backstroke split of 53.45 seconds set a world record, and
Crocker -- after saying Friday he wanted to "tear up the pool" -- was a speedy
50.28 seconds in the butterfly leg.
"It was a great opportunity to say thank you to the guys," Crocker said. "I
just wanted to do them justice."
"I was awesome," Peirsol added. "These guys swam so well. I'm so proud to be a
part of this team."
The Americans were never threatened by the silver medalist team from Germany,
which set a European record with a time of 3 minutes, 33.62 seconds. Japan won
the bronze in 3 minutes, 35.22 seconds to set an Asian record.
Minutes earlier, American Jenny Thompson became the most decorated swimmer in
Olympic history by winning her 12th career medal as part of the United States'
silver medal-winning 400-meter medley relay team.
"That was my last ever Olympic race," the 31-year-old said afterwards.
Thompson surpassed the 11-medal totals of American legends Spitz and Matt
Biondi, but she also might have cost her team the gold.
Natalie Coughlin and Amanda Beard gave the Americans a comfortable lead over
Australia heading into Thompson's butterfly split. But Aussie Petria Thomas was
able to catch and pass Thompson, handing her team the lead for good.
Jodie Henry then anchored Australia's world record time of 3 minutes, 57.32
seconds -- which snapped the mark set by the Thompson and her teammates at the
2000 Sydney Games.
American anchor Kara Lynn Joyce, who swam with Thompson in the 50-meter
freestyle 40 minutes earlier, never threatened Henry.
"I think we did an excellent job," Joyce said. "We got a silver and made great
time. We did our best."
Thompson finished her Olympic career without winning the individual gold that
eluded her for so long. Nine of her 12 medals have come as a part of a relay
team, including two here in Athens.
In the night's first race Olympic champion and world record holder Inge de
Bruijn of the Netherlands won gold in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday night,
the final individual women's swimming event here.
Australian Grant Hackett then closed out the men's individual program with an
Olympic record performance to win gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle. He also
won the event in Sydney.
De Bruijn finished with a time of 24.58 seconds, nearly a half-second off her
world record time, to win her fourth medal here and eighth overall. It was good
enough to beat silver medalist Malia Metella of France, who was .31 seconds off
"I don't know if I'll be [in Beijing] for the next Olympics, we'll see," the
30-year-old de Bruijn said.
Australia's Lisbeth Lenton won the bronze.
Hackett, the world record holder, led wire-to-wire to finish in 14:43.40 for a
new Olympic mark. It was nearly 10 seconds slower than his world record, but
good enough to edge silver medalist Larsen Jensen of the United States. Great
Britain's David Davies took bronze.
08/21 15:25:29 ET