Athens, Greece (Sports Network)-
Ian Crocker and his teammates vindicated Michael Phelps' decision, and handed the Athens Games poster boy a historic eighth medal Saturday night.
Phelps claimed medal No. 8 when the U.S. team of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Crocker and Jason Lezak won gold in the 400-meter medley relay by swimming it in a world record time of 3 minutes, 30.68 seconds.
"People will always remember [this]," Hansen said. "We are strong, we are proud, we are happy to win."
Phelps finished with six golds and two bronzes in Athens, which moved him into a tie with Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin's 1980 record for the most medals won at one Olympics.
The 19-year-old phenom watched the relay from the stands, having surrendered his butterfly slot to Crocker after beating his friend in the 100-meter butterfly Friday to tie Mark Spitz for the most individual swimming golds won.
But he picked up his sixth gold anyway, by virtue of his participation in the 400 heats.
And for their part, the four American swimmers -- three of them world record holders in their disciplines -- did what the U.S. men always do in swimming relays, they won gold.
Piersol's leadoff backstroke split of 53.45 seconds set a world record, and Crocker -- after saying Friday he wanted to "tear up the pool" -- was a speedy 50.28 seconds in the butterfly leg.
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