On this day in 2008: Michael Phelps breaks Mark Spitz’s Olympics record

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Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics on this day in 2008 to break Mark Spitz’s record for victories in a single Games.

Phelps was part of the United States team that won the 4x100m medley relay, meaning he had taken gold in all eight events he had entered.

The United States were running third, trailing Australia and Japan, when Phelps dived in for the third leg of the medley but once he had completed his 100m butterfly, he gave team-mate Jason Lezak a half-second lead and set them up for the world record.

Michael Phelps, centre, with his men’s 100m butterfly final gold
Michael Phelps, centre, with his men’s 100m butterfly final gold (Gareth Copley/PA)

It was the seventh of his eight golds to come with a world record, the only exception being the 100m butterfly.

Spitz previously held the single-Games record when he swept the board with seven golds at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

“Records are always made to be broken no matter what they are,” Phelps said after the race. “Anybody can do anything that they set their mind to.”

Michael Phelps continued his success at London 2012
Michael Phelps continued his success at London 2012 (Mike Egerton/PA)

Phelps, who had won six Olympic titles at the 2004 Athens Games, would go on to win a further four gold medals in London in 2012.

He then announced his retirement but reversed that decision in 2014 and went on to win five more golds in Rio in 2016, making him the most successful individual at a fourth Games.

When he retired for the second and final time he did so with 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold, a record better than 161 nations.