Olympics: China dominates Phelps-less day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

Associated Press
BEIJING ó Michael Phelps finally had a breather, a day to sit and count his gold medals instead of trying to add to his collection. There was no slowing the Chinese, though.
From getting their first swimming gold in a world-record time to a long-awaited gold in men’s gymnastics to golden redemption for a shooter, the hosts continued to amaze. With five more golds Thursday, their Olympic tally is up to 22.
China’s winning percentage is ridiculous ó more than 1 in every 4 events. If the Chinese can somehow keep it up, they would claim 78 golds ó the most by any country in a non-boycotted games since 1904, back when tug-of-war was still on the docket.
The weather was a big factor on Day 6 in Beijing. At day’s end, China led the U.S. 34-33 in the overall medal count.
But that was likely to change early today when Phelps heads into the water.
He’ll be swimming the 200-meter individual medley, seeking his sixth gold of these games and the 12th of his Olympic career. And, win or lose, the spotlight will be his once again.

Phelps actually dove in at the Water Cube, but it was only for heats. He qualified .01 behind teammate and top foe Ryan Lochte for the 200 IM during the morning session, then at night advanced out of the 100 butterfly preliminaries.
“I think over the next few days the biggest thing is going to be trying to get as much rest as I can,” he said. “If I can do that, I’ll be fine.”

Chalk up another remarkable feat for Michael Phelps: somehow making swimming trading cards popular.
An autographed 2004 trading card of the record-shattering Olympian was trading for as much as $500 on Thursday, just two weeks after industry experts say the collectible could be easily had for $25.
The market value could rise to $750 to $1,000 if Phelps breaks Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics this weekend, said Tracy Hackler, an associate publisher with Beckett Media LLP, a Dallas-based memorabilia company.
“It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the trading card category,” said Hackler, whose company is an industry leader in collectibles pricing.
Arlington, Texas-based Donruss produced about 300 of the autographed Phelps cards in 2004 and about 5,000 “common” cards not bearing the American swimmer’s autograph.