BELGRADE, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic congratulated Saturday the country's best swimmer Milorad Cavic on winning the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
"You have shown that with efforts and hard work one can achieve extraordinary success which brings joy to the whole of Serbia. I congratulate you on winning this important medal and thus increasing Serbia's renown in the world", Cvetkovic said in his congratulatory message.
Cavic won the first medal for Serbia at the Beijing Olympic Games in men's 100-meter butterfly. The 24-year-old Serb has set a new European record of 50.59 seconds, which was a mere one hundredth of a second slower than the time of the Olympic winner American Michael Phelps.
Cavic was in the lead the entire race, almost ending Phelps' attempt to break Mark Spitz's record haul of seven gold medals at one Olympics. However, Phelps caught up on Cavic literally in the last second and touched the wall first.
The Serbian swimming team sent official protest but conceded that Phelps won after reviewing the tape provided by the International Swimming Federation, the governing body of swimming.
Cavic, who was born in California to Serb parents and trains in Florida, endeared himself to Serbs in March when he was suspended from the European Championships for wearing a T-shirt proclaiming "Kosovo is Serbia" -- a reference to Kosovo's controversial declaration of independence from Serbia on Feb. 17.
Cavic displayed the red T-shirt with text in Cyrillic at a medal presentation ceremony after winning the 50-meter butterfly. The European swimming league ruled the message a political slogan and ejected him out of his remaining two events.
On the same day, Serbia's Novak Djokovic won a bronze medal of tennis men's singles, which brought Serbia's medal toll to 2 on the Olympics medal table.