2008 the world witnessed a phenom named Michael Phelps.
as he is referred to, captured an astounding, and by the way record breaking,
eight gold medals in Beijing adding to the six gold and two bronze from the
Athens Games. He has the cool, calm, laser-like focus of a surgeon as his
sinewy body, chiseled in water and built on determination, hydroplanes through
his aquatic domain and ricochets off each end while his decimated competition
merely swims and touches. This is his world and nobody in history ever ruled it
more thoroughly and absolutely than Michael Fred Phelps.
reveled in his post Olympic celebrity he also stated that he had seen it all
and done it all so his legacy would stand on its own merits. What left was
there to be accomplished when you are the most decorated gold medalist in the
history of the Modern Era? However there was that one thing. Yes, Phelps still
needed two more medals to capture the title for most overall medals which has
been held by a Soviet gymnast named Larisa Latynina who has had a stranglehold
on the record since the 1960's.
allure of breaking that record and getting one more opportunity to stand
triumphant in front of the world be enough to coax him back into the pool and
ultimately back on to the podium? You bet it was and Phelps splashed his way
into the final heat of the men's 400 meter individual medley. However this
27-year-old version was not the same merman who blazed his way to glory and
vanquished both the competition and the record books in Beijing. Alas, Poseidon
was no longer ruling the waters and rewriting history, it was in fact a very
mortal Michael Phelps who touched the wall a staggering four seconds after his
teammate and newly minted gold medal winner Ryan Lochte. Fourth place finishers
don't get medals and Phelps found that out the hard way as he looked stupefied
fielding questions immediately after his disappointing finish.
But a medal
was in Phelps's immediate future as he swam the second leg of the men's 4X100
freestyle relay and wound up with his first ever silver medal. It doesn't have
the cache of a gold but it does lift his overall medal tally to 17, one shy of
the record. Before the 2012 London Games are through, Phelps is likely to shatter
the almost 50 year-old mark and officially become the most dominant athlete the
Games have ever witnessed. So rather than compare his present day mortality
with the heroics of his glorious past, let's not forget that Michael Phelps has
dedicated a lifetime to honing his craft and thrilling the world as the most
dominant swimmer in history. So when the Star Spangled Banner blares and Phelps
stands tall with his 18th medal dangling from around his neck
remember that his accomplishments are his own but his pride as an American is
something we can all share.
Change the Rule
If you are
old enough to read this then you certainly remember when trophies were only
held by those who earned them. But if you have had children within the last
dozen years or so who participate in organized sports then you know that every
kid gets a trophy just for showing up at the end of the year. Sounds to me like
the administrators of kids sports are mimicking our own government where
everybody gets a piece even if they don't work at it.
could be said of Major League Baseball where every team has to have at least
one representative even if that player is unworthy of a roster spot. At least I
can see the business angle in that decision, placating the traditionally
smaller market teams who cannot afford to pay the high priced superstars yet
giving them a chance to bask in the All-Star glow right along with the greatest
names in the game. It's a showcase for Major League Baseball and they not only
want every team represented but they also want them making money on the
merchandising which ultimately flows from an All-Star berth.
Olympics are not Little League Baseball nor are they a professional sports
league. The Olympics are about the best athletes in the world competing against
each other regardless from which country they hail. They don't give a
sportsmanship award to Azerbaijan because their athletes didn't win any medals
nor do they play the national anthem of Botswana because they tried really,
And so it
goes that a rule is in place that no country can have more than two athletes in
the women's gymnastics all-around final. Before 2004 it was a three per country
rule which is only a little less absurd than the two per country rule. Jordyn
Wieber, the reigning world champion, will not be going to the finals because
her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas locked up the two coveted spots by
beating her by the thinnest of margins. The scoreboard said Jordyn Wieber had
the 4th best score in the preliminaries while Anastasia Grishina of
Russia was 12th, Jennifer Pinches of Great Britain 21st
and Yao Jinnan of China 22nd. But none of these talented women will
be in the final twenty four because of a rule that is both absurd and arrogant.
Does it make
any sense whatsoever to deny an athlete what she has rightfully earned through
years and years of dedication, devotion and training simply because her country
does this one thing better than most? It's outrageous and it's wrong. If twenty
four Chinese gymnasts placed higher than any of their competitors, including
the Americans, then the world should see an all-around final that will be
assured of having three of the best gymnasts in the world all wearing medals
and who all happen to be Chinese.
year we will not be seeing all of the best female gymnasts in the world compete
but only a portion because four young women were robbed of an opportunity by an
Olympic Committee who is more concerned about being politically correct than
being fair. Shameful.