In the countdown to the 2012 London Olympics, we retrace some memorable achievements in the history of the Games. In part nine of our Olympic recall, a look at Michael Phelps' razor-thin victories and Hicham El Guerrouj's double gold at the 2004 Athens Games.
2004: Phelps wins 100m butterfly by a touch
Ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics, American swimmer Michael Phelps stated he was aiming for a record eight gold medals. He did not reach his goal, but still came away with an astounding six gold and two bronze medals.
Phelps' most dramatic gold medal during the Athens Games came in the 100 meter butterfly against team-mate and world record holder Ian Crocker. Phelps surged ahead in the last length and out-touched Crocker at the wall by .04 seconds. It was a razor-thin margin of victory for Phelps and one of the highlights of the 2004 Olympics.
2004 - US wins 4x200m freestyle relay
On August 18, Phelps led the United States to a narrow victory in the men's 4x200 meters freestyle relay at the Athens Olympics to collect his third gold medal in four days.
Swimming the first leg against defending champion Australia, Phelps established an initial lead, which the US expanded to 1.48 seconds entering the anchor leg. Things were kicked up a notch when 200m gold medalist Ian Thorpe steadily gained ground, but Klete Keller, who along with Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay had been handed over the lead by Phelps held him off and the US won in seven minutes 07.33 seconds – a victory margin of just .13 seconds.
The Australian quartet of Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, Nicholas Sprenger and Thorpe finished second in 7:07.46.
2004: Hicham El Guerrouj wins two golds
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj knew a thing or two about heartbreak when he entered the 2004 Games. Eight years earlier, in the 1500 meter Olympic final, El Guerrouj had collided with Noureddine Morceli with just 430 meters to go. Having fallen to the ground, he came last. Four years later in the Sydney final, El Guerrouj was tipped as the favorite but ended up being overtaken on the home stretch by Kenyan Noah Ngeny of Kenya.
In what would be his last Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics was where El Guerrouj finally experienced the Olympic success he so richly deserved as he defeated perennial rival Bernard Lagat by 0.12 seconds to achieve ever-lasting glory. In the 1500m, he beat the Kenyan to win one of the closest races in Olympic history.
Five days later El Guerrouj won the 5,000m by sprinting past his rivals in the final 100m, thus becoming first runner to achieve the 1500m/5000m double since Paavo Nurmi in 1924.