Mark Spitz (left) and Michael Phelps
Graham Morris/Evening Standard/Getty; Al Bello/Getty
It was a close one, but Michael Phelps is officially in seventh heaven.
He has now caught up to record holder Mark Spitz's seven gold medal count set in 1972 at the Munich Games.
But it was no easy victory. The American swimmer won his seventh gold medal at the Beijing Olympics Saturday by out-touching Milorad Cavic of Serbia by one-hundredth of second in the 100-meter butterfly final.
An emotional Phelps screamed and flapped at the water after touching the wall first in 50.58 seconds to Cavic's 50.59.
Alas, Phelps might even be human: the holder of 13 career gold medals didn't set a world record
in the race, which he had done in his previous six races.
Talk of a possible upset centered around fellow American Ian Crocker, who is the world record holder in the event. But it was Cavic who nearly spoiled Phelps's victory. He lead most of the race – until Phelps out-touched him at the wall.
Following Phelps's win, Mark Spitz addressed Phelps via satellite from Detroit during NBC's Olympics broadcast. "One word comes to mind: Epic," Spitz told Phelps. "What you did tonight was epic."
Phelps has a chance to better Spitz's record Sunday when he races in the 4x100 medley relay on the final day of swimming in Beijing.
Reporting by CYNTHIA WANG