Rice, Phelps in fleshy embrace

World-beater Michael Phelps has sparked a flurry of excitement by ditching his shirt to hug golden girl Stephanie Rice under some rare Beijing sun.

The pair were cheered as they posed together for photographs today, 48 hours after the close of the swimming competition which saw them each become the individual standouts of their respective national teams.

The twosome giggled as they looped arms around each other to promote sponsor Speedo, later joined by other Aussie swim stars including Libby Trickett, Grant Hackett and Eamon Sullivan.

The photographers and around 50 journalists gathered for a piece of the athletes, with Phelps and Rice the centre of attention.

“I definitely admire him for his athletic ability and everything he’s achieved,” Rice told ninemsn.

“I’m just really glad to be in the mix with that.”

Phelps was keen to let his hair down after a record-breaking eight gold medals from as many appearances, a feat that made him the most successful Olympic athlete of all time.

“I’ve had a lot of water and now it’s just time to relax a little bit,” Phelps said.

The swimmers, many of whom have been spotted out enjoying the Beijing nightlife, were clearly enjoying being free from their responsibilities.

Trickett told ninemsn there were “different celebrations for different people.”

“I went out on the first night and that’s probably going to be enough for me.”

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