Whatever Phelps is, he is a champion of epic proportions. Now that he is the winningest Olympian ever, two questions remain: how far he will he extend his gold-medal lead, and will he beat the record of seven for the most gold medals in a single Olympic Games -- set by Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich games. Spitz also set a world record in each of his gold medal races. Phelps has thus far done the same, going five for five in Beijing.
Whether Phelps tops Spitz, the confident consensus is that he's not through yet: with three more races to go in Beijing, his 11 career gold medals probably won't stand for long.
"There is still something left in the tank," Phelps told AP. "I've got three races left, so there had better be something left in the tank."
As Michael Phelps swam towards more gold, the Chinese women's gymnastics team avoided major mistakes to claim a gold medal for China in the team finals, just as the Chinese men did. The United States and Romanian women took silver and bronze respectively.
Inside the National Indoor Stadium this morning, the pressure on the Chinese team was palpable. When star Cheng Fei fell off the balance beam, she rushed off the platform, devastated. Every person inside the sold-out venue seemed to gasp in disbelief.
But the Chinese team rallied to win the gold, out-flipping and out-balancing the United States team by merely one point.
Five-time Olympic champion gymnast Nadia Comaneci told ABC News that the pressure on the Chinese team this Olympic season has been enormous.
"They carried the entire wall of China on their back because they feel so much that they had to deliver," she said. And deliver they did.
The Chinese team finals ended with convincing results, but many remain unconvinced that the Chinese athletes are yet 16, the cut-off age for competing in the Games.
In July, sports registration lists on Chinese gymnastic Web sites obtained by ABC News suggested that half the stars of the Chinese women's team — Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan, and He Kexin — did not meet the minimum age requirement of turning at least 16 in 2008.
When concerns and questions were raised, Chinese team officials provided copies of their passports and national identification cards to the international gymnastic federation (FIG) and ABC News. The documents indicated they were eligible for competition. But many have questioned whether the documents were created for the sake of Olympic gold.
Comaneci, who has been closely following the women's gymnastics competition in Beijing, told ABC News, "It's always been controversial about He [Kexin]'s age. But their passport says one thing so there's nothing anybody can say about it," she shrugged.
Like Comaneci, gymnastics fans and Chinese news media have shrugged off the age controversy. Unlike the pairs figure-skating judging scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games, the gymnasts' questionable ages haven't attracted much attention.
It's tough to tell the ages of gymnasts in general, since they are typically more compact athletes. Some Chinese might look younger and smaller than Westerners of the same age. There is no medical way of measuring exact age.