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Phelps shows why no-one has ever done it better

ESPN staff
August 3, 2012

Every day of the Olympics, we at ESPN Towers will award gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three moments. Here are our choices for day six...

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Gold

We are not even going to act like there is anything more that can be said about Michael Phelps that has not been said before in one form or another. The man is remarkable - his 21st Olympic medal (17th gold) on Friday yet another enduring testament to his swimming prowess.

But it was the manner of the win in the 100m butterfly, almost certainly his last individual gold in the pool, that really caught the attention. Four years ago, controversy reigned in the 100m fly as TV replays appeared to show Serbia's Milorad Cavic touched the wall before Phelps - but Phelps nevertheless was given the win by 0.01 seconds on the scoreboard. Some cried conspiracy, others noted that Phelps won only because he touched the wall (and the sensors behind it) with more force.

This time around, however, there was no debate. Phelps was about fourth with 65m gone, but then kicked into gear in front of everyone's eyes - slicing through the water like a flying salmon as he breezed past all his rivals and touched in for gold. He still has the relay to go, but this was arguably the signature performance of his London 2012. We will always remember Phelps as a great of sport, a titan - performances (plural; not just one, umpteen) like this are the reason why.

Silver

For many, the Olympics only truly get underway once the action reaches the athletics stadium - traditionally after the swimming has captured everyone's imagination. For this reason, Friday morning proved a great occasion in an already great Games.

With an absolutely packed Olympic Stadium - no empty seat controversy here - and the sun beating down on Stratford, conditions were perfect for a memorable day. And then Jessica Ennis won the opening event of the heptathlon, the 100m hurdles, in a time of 12.54 seconds - the equal of what won the individual event fours year ago in Beijing.

The golden girl of these Games had got the athletics off to a golden start, as everyone in the stands went absolutely mad.

Ennis finished the day off as she started, recording the fastest time of the 200m to take the lead going into the second day. Just three events separate her from gold - if she comes down the final straight of the 800m with that gold already in hand come Saturday evening, the atmosphere will be like nothing we've ever seen before.

Bronze

A breakthrough day for Andy Murray? It may not have been a grand slam, but it still felt pretty epic as the Scot stood up to the best Novak Djokovic could throw at him and then blasted it right back at the Serbian, eventually stunning him to claim a 7-5 7-5 victory.

Freed from it's usual, traditionalist, shackles, the crowd at an unusually colourful Centre Court went absolutely ballistic in celebration. Murray now goes against Roger Federer in the final - bidding for both revenge after that grand slam final defeat and the chance to claim Olympic gold.

It really could be a career-defining moment for Murray, who is loving every minute of his experience this week.

"Night matches US Open we always said was the best atmosphere, but it's not even close to what it was today," Murray noted. Just you wait for Sunday.

Special mentions: Victoria Pendleton's dominant gold in the keirin, Kathy Grainger's gold medal - at last!, Alan Campbell unable to stand after winning bronze in the rowing, men's team pursuit four setting a new world record in winning gold, 15-year-old Katie Ledecky defeating Rebecca Adlington in the 800m freestyle.

What a remarkable day.

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