Poor Mark Spitz. The middle-aged motivational speaker and former swimmer can no longer be “considered the Greatest Olympic athlete of all-time,” now that Michael Phelps has won eight gold medals in one Olympics this morning, surpassing Spitz’s seven in 1972.
Spitz can actually thank a fellow Jew for this development. Jason Lezak, who won bronze in the 100-meter freestyle but, more importantly, swam the anchor leg in the 4x100 freestyle relay that helped push the U.S. team — including Phelps — to gold on Monday, pulled a golden repeat today.
Following U.S. teammates Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Phelps, Lezak dove into lane four to swim the anchor leg, or final position, of the Men’s 4 x 100 meter medley relay, and touched the finish .7 seconds ahead of the second-place Australians, to give his team a record time of 3:29.34.
“I was thinking, ‘Don’t blow the lead,’” Lezak said. “I was really nervous going in because anything can happen in a one race … I knew Eamon [Sullivan of Australia] was definitely capable of catching me. I wanted to take it out hard and finish as strong as I could.”
The race gave Phelps his record-breaking eighth gold medal for the 2008 games.