Michael Phelps, arguably the face of the United States contingent in these Beijing games, is seven-for-seven. Last night, he came from behind in the 100-meter (328 feet) butterfly, edging out Serbia's Milorad Cavic by 1/100th of a second. It appeared to some that Cavic had beaten Phelps to the wall, but that Phelps had actually touched the wall first. So there obviously was a bit of shit-raking to do before everyone could accept the decision.
To the live human eye, no one knew who won the race, only that Phelps had come from seventh place at the split to deliver a heart-pound finish. “I didn’t breathe the final eight meters,” even he declared.When Cavic and Phelps hit the wall, all eyes, including the swimmers’, spun to the giant television screen on one wall of the Water Cube. The pool was silent for a couple of seconds, fans hanging on edge. Of course the good guys won, the Serbs filed a protest, which FINA acknowledged by breaking protocol and allowing the Serbian team to watch official replays of the race.
They watched it a few times. Watched it from both systems – one powered by cable, one by battery. “It was very clear the Serbian swimmer touched second after Michael Phelps,” Ekumbo said. Clear to whom? The Serbs? Indeed, even the Serbs. As incredible as it sounds, they all agreed there was no doubt. The question wasn’t even that Phelps touched first; it was if Cavic had managed to get there at the same time and share gold. The Serbs conceded. The protest was withdrawn.Meanwhile, we can only imagine that a Phelps celebration was already underway...