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Michael Phelps became the first competitor in the history of the Olympics to win eight gold medals at a single Games as the United States won the men's 4x100m medley relay on Sunday.

With the victory, Phelps overtook compatriot Mark Spitz, who won seven swimming gold medals at Munich in 1972.

Phelps had opened the swimming competition with a victory in the first event, the 400m individual medley, and went on to win the 200m medley, 100m and 200m butterfly, 200m freestyle and both the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.

Seven of his golds - including the first six - all came with world records, while his seventh, in the 100m butterfly, was by a margin of just one one-hundredth of a second.

In Athens four years ago, Phelps won six gold medals (100m and 200m butterfly, 200 and 400m individual medley, 4x200m freestyle relay and 4x100m medley relay), and two bronze (200m free and 4x100m free relay).

His 14 career gold medals are the most of any Olympian, with his nearest rivals Spitz, athletes Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi and Gymnast Larysa Latynina - who all won nine in their careers.

At the age of 23, Phelps has set a record for the total number of medals won by a male Olympian with 16.

Russian gymnast Nikolai Andrianov with 15 - seven gold, five silver and three bronze in 1972, 1976 and 1980 - had held the mark.

Only Latynina's 18 career medals exceed Phelps's total.

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