Faithful cheer Phelps' last swim on Ravens' stadium screens
BALTIMORE -- Thousands of Baltimore Ravens fans got in line early to seek a good vantage point to watch Baltimore native Michael Phelps chase his record-setting eighth Olympic gold medal on the stadium's big screen Saturday night.
The U.S. 400-meter medley relay team, featuring Phelps, was displayed on both screens at M&T Bank Stadium after the Ravens faced the Minnesota Vikings in a preseason game.
Forty-five minutes before Phelps jumped in the pool in Beijing in search of his 14th career gold medal, Tony Beard, 45, and Ann Williams, 47, both of Owings Mills, were eager to watch the event.
"I think he's going to be a legend forever," Williams said of Phelps, adding that the swimmer's Olympic performance is "definitely going to be remembered."
Minutes before the race, fans in the lower seating bowl started chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A! Let's go Phelps! U-S-A! U-S-A!" Some held posters that read "Ravens for Phelps."
More than 10,000 of the 70,585 fans stayed to watch Phelps swim -- and win.
Minutes after Phelps captured his record-setting gold medal, Jim Dickey, 38, of Whiteford, declared the hometown hero to be "just phenomenal. It's just something you can't believe."
Dickey pointed out, with pride, that Phelps and fellow Maryland native Katie Hoff won as many medals as some countries.
Kevin and Julie Scally of Towson also waited in line to get a good seat, clutching an 2008 Olympics flag.
"Last night solidified his legend," Kevin Scally said of Phelps' narrow victory in the 100 meter butterfly Friday night. "We had trouble sleeping last night."
Scally probably won't have trouble sleeping in Sunday morning -- especially if he stayed up late Saturday celebrating the addition of Phelps to a list of Baltimore heroes that includes Cal Ripken and Johnny Unitas.
Scally said he played sports against Ripken and went to church with Unitas while growing up in Baltimore. The Scallys live across the street from one of Phelps' coaches, Ian Brooks.
"Michael Phelps just kind of fits in with a big small town. And that's Baltimore all the way," Kevin Scally said. "He's part of us, he really is. He just fits in as a character in Baltimore."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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PHELPS: THE GREAT 8
Michael Phelps has become the most decorated gold medalist in history, winning eight gold medals in a single Games. Here's a review of what we saw from this super American swimmer in Beijing:
RACE BREAKDOWN• Pat Forde's breakdown: Phelps bettered Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medials, set at the 1972 Munich Games. Here is a review of Phelps' races at Beijing. Story
• Race No. 1 -- 400-meter IM: Phelps kept pace with teammate Ryan Lochte and László Cseh in his weakest discipline, the breaststroke, before putting the hammer down in the freestyle to win his first gold of the Games. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 2 -- 4x100 free relay: Phelps almost saw his run end, but Jason Lezak came back in the final leg to help the U.S. men edge France to win gold in one of the most memorable relay races in Olympic history. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 4 -- 200 butterfly: It wasn't even close, folks. Phelps controlled the race from the beginning to win, breaking his own world record and becoming the most decorated gold medalist in Olympic history. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 5 -- 4x200 free relay: Phelps chose to swim the first leg of the relay and immediately set the tone. By the time Peter Vanderkaay swam the anchor leg, the Americans held a five-body-length lead. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 6 -- 200 individual medley: Phelps dominated right from the start of the 200 IM and powered away to win in 1:54.23, another world record. Less than an hour later, Phelps won his 100 butterfly qualifier. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 7 -- 100 butterfly: Just when you thought it couldn't get any better ... Phelps beat Milorad Cavic by a hundredth of a second to win the 100 fly and match Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in the same Games. Story | Forde's take
• Race No. 8 -- 4x100 medley relay: The relay team of Aaron Peirsol (back), Brendan Hansen (breast), Phelps (fly) and Jason Lezak (free) won, helping Phelps pass Mark Spitz for an unprecedented eighth gold medal in the same Olympics. Story
PREVIEW• Bowman on Phelps: What makes Phelps so good? ESPN.com asked his coach, Bob Bowman, to break him down by each discipline. Story
• ZOOM gallery: A look at Michael Phelps, stroke by stroke. Launch
• ESPN The Magazine: Once again, Michael Phelps is poised at a frontier of the impossible. Eric Adelson
WATCH• SportsCenter: ESPN's Hannah Storm sits down with Phelps, who says this will be his last run at history. Watch
• Outside The Lines: Eric Adelson gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Phelps' training regimen. Watch