SPORTS

Michael Phelps steps away from London Games while Oscar Pistorius arrives

08/04/2012 07:00 EDT | Updated 10/04/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - Oscar Pistorius burst onto the Olympic scene just as Michael Phelps was making a golden exit.

The two historical achievements carried the London Games to the halfway mark and set the stage for a dramatic final week. As remarkable as it was to see Phelps power to another victory in the pool Saturday, the sight of Pistorius striding around the track — on carbon-fibre blades, no less — produced an image unlike any other in Olympic history.

No other amputee had ever competed against able-bodied athletes on the biggest stage in sports.

For Pistorius, it came after years of fighting for a place in the Olympic field. The South African finally got to take a spot in the start blocks for a 400-metre heat.

"It's very difficult to separate the occasion from the race," Pistorius said after finishing second to advance to Sunday's semifinals.

Phelps simply did what has long been expected of him. Swimming the third leg of the medley relay, he overtook a Japanese competitor and the Americans never looked back while claiming gold.

It was a record 22nd Olympic medal for Phelps — 18th of them gold — and brought an unparalleled career to its end.

"It's just time to move on," said Phelps, who finished with six medals at these Games. "There are other things I want to do in my life. I'm not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of them."

The eighth day of the Olympics was billed as "Super Saturday" and the host nation ensured that it lived up to the hype.

After the stirring performances by Pistorius and Phelps, a trio of athletes from Great Britain took centre stage in the evening and brought 80,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium to their feet repeatedly during an unforgettable hour.

Jessica Ennis got things started with a victory in the heptathlon and Mo Farah closed it out by winning the 10,000 metres. It was sandwiched by another gold, in the long jump, for Greg Rutherford.

"If it wasn't for the crowd I don't think that would happen," said Farah.

Added Rutherford: "What a night for British athletics."

Canada finally claimed its first gold of the Games — Rosannagh MacLennan of King City, Ont., broke through in women's trampoline — while also adding a silver and bronze. That brought the country's medal total to 10 and left it sitting 11th in the overall standings.

The team hopes to carry the momentum into the second week of competition.

"In the village every day we have daily Canadian celebrations," said MacLennan. "I think we're coming together as a team more and I think that fuels the motivation. When you see one competitor do well, you can feed off of that."

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