On This Day: Michael Phelps wins eighth gold at Beijing Olympics

Sports Mole looks back at American swimmer Michael Phelps's record-breaking performance at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, which happened on this day six years ago.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, USA swimmer Michael Phelps made history by winning eight gold medals in a single Games.

Aged 23, the Baltimore Bullet went into the Games aiming to break the record of seven wins that was set by fellow American Mark Spitz at the 1972 event in Munich.

Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 100m Butterfly Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008© Getty Images

Ahead of the Games, Phelps was cautious when talking about his chances of breaking the record, telling reporters that he was preparing for the Olympics like any other meet, while retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe said that he thought that it was unlikely that the American would win all eight events in which he had entered.

On August 15, Phelps made it six golds from six events in China as he claimed the 200m individual medley title with a new world record to leave him one short of Spitz's tally with two events still to come.

The following day, the American made it seven with a 0.01-second win over Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly final, setting a new Olympic Games record in the process.

Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates victory in the Men's 100m Butterfly Final held at the National Aquatics Centre during Day 8 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008© Getty Images

On the final day of the swimming program in Beijing, Phelps lined up in America's 4x100m medley relay team, alongside Brendan Hansen, Aaron Peirsol and Jason Lezak.

Phelps was to complete the penultimate leg of the race swimming butterfly, before handing over to Lezak on the freestyle anchor leg.

The USA were third behind Australia and Japan when Phelps entered the water, but he completed his stint in 50.1 seconds, the fastest time ever in a medley relay, to give Lezak more than 0.5 seconds advantage for the final 100m.

Lezak maintained the gap as he completed his two lengths of the pool, ensuring that the team set a new world record for the event, and made Phelps the first Olympian to win eight golds at a single Games.

Phelps added the eight golds from Beijing to the six, as well as two bronzes, that he had picked up four years earlier in Athens.

Phelps revealed that he had used Thorpe's comments before the Games as motivation, sticking a transcript of his words to the inside of his locker throughout the championships.

He went on to take part in a third Olympics in London in 2012, winning another four events and adding two silvers to his medal collection, taking his total to 18 Olympic golds and 22 medals overall, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Phelps announced that he would retire after the London Olympics, but confirmed earlier this year that he intends to return to competition, so could add to his legacy in Rio in two years.

Great Britain's Siobhan Marie O'Connor smiles after she won the semi-final 1 of the women's 200m individual medley swimming event at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan on August 2, 2015
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