Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 14, 2008
Date Finished: August 16, 2008
With six gold medals in the bag and just two to win for a perfect eight out of eight record at the 2008 Olympic Games, [Michael Phelps] arrived at the race which swimming experts considered the one he was most likely to lose. The 100 metre butterfly was the only race in which he competed in Beijing where he did not hold the current world record. In fact he was not even the fastest American in the field as that honour was held by world record holder [Ian Crocker]. Despite the presence of Crocker and Serbia's [Milorad ÄaviÄ], Phelps' previous performances at the 2008 Games were such that he was still considered a hot favourite.
The final was a race of two distinct halves. Over the first 50 m Milorad ÄaviÄ pulled out a big lead and with Phelps trailing back in seventh it appeared that his ambition to have a perfect Olympics was lost. The final 50 metres saw a monumental effort from Phelps to get back on terms with the Serbian but as both men reached for the wall on their final strokes it appeared ÄaviÄ still held a narrow lead. The crowd and media looked up at the scoreboard in anticipation of a Serbian victory but instead it was Phelps' name that flashed up on the scoreboard as champion. Television replays indicated that Phelps' final stroke had been timed to perfection whilst ÄaviÄ's finish was a little more sloppy in its execution. It may even have been that whilst ÄaviÄ had reached the touchpads before Phelps he had not provided the minimum 3 kgs of pressure required to trigger the mechanism. Some people pointed to the fact that Omega, the official timekeepers to the Olympic movement, were also personal sponsors to the American champion but nobody provided any evidence to support their complaints. A protest was put in by the Serbian team management but it was overruled after a review.