It's really wonderful to be able to watch such extraordinarily talented people, who may change the history of a certain art or sport and have their legacy reminded by millions of people from all over the world over time, winning it all and displaying such confidence, seriousness and dedication to what they do.
This article is great fun and it's a beautiful hommage to him, the greatest athlete ever to have been at the Olympics! I hope you people who enjoy the sport like it! Here it is:
Phelps sets gold standard
By Charles Robinson
BEIJING: Four years ago in Athens, when Michael Phelps had completed the lifelong dream and was clutching his first gold medal, his mother and two sisters scoured a fence line dividing swimmers from spectators.
In the middle of hundreds of prying eyes, a hand reached through the fence during an intimate moment. Huddling close, Phelps' mother Debbie and his sisters Hillary and Whitney locked their eyes on the glimmering medal hanging from a ribbon. They all cried. Even now, when one of them tells the story, they struggle to keep the tears back.
"Michael stuck his medal through the fence and we were all there. It was so special", Hillary said. "He stuck the medal through and was like: Look what I did! I did it. I did it."
On Wednesday in Beijing, Phelps repeated the feat for the 10th and 11th times, winning the 200-meter butterfly and swimming the opening leg of the 4x200 freestyle relay, giving him more gold medals than any Olympian in the history of the games. The former mark of nine golds was held by American icons Carl Lewis and Mark Spitz and Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina.
Phelps' historic run has been so stunning, even his competitors are grasping for ways to define his greatness. British swimmer Simon Burnett and U.S. mens head coach Eddie Reese were walking into the cafeteria this week when Reese said Burnett told him: "I think I've figured out Michael Phelps. He's not from another planet. He's from the future. His father made him and made a time machine. Sixty years from now he is an average swimmer, but he has come back here to mop up."
"I'm almost kind of at a loss for words", Phelps said. "Growing up, I always wanted to be an Olympian. Now to be the most decorated Olympian of all time, it just sounds weird saying it. I just have absolutely nothing to say. I'm speechless."
"It's a pretty cool title, I guess you could say." [haha - laugh not in the original article!]
Phelps grabbed that title in typical fashion. He set his fourth world record in capturing the 200 fly in 1 minute, 52.03 seconds, which is .06 seconds faster than the world record he set in the prelims one day earlier. And he was part of his fifth world record when the 4x200 free team finished in 6:58.56, gouging a ridiculous 4.64 seconds off the previous mark.
"It is very hard to be swimming the relay also on the same day (as the butterfly). I don't know how he is doing this", said Pawel Korzeniowski, who finished sixth behind Phelps in the fly. "Everybody is thinking: How can he do this and break world record?"
Amazingly, Phelps won the fly despite his goggles filling with water as he approached the 150-meter mark in the race. Once getting to the finishing blocks, he flung off his cap and goggles in disgust and vigorously rubbed his eyes, despite having set a record in the race.
"I couldn't see", Phelps said. "I was trying to see the "T" on the bottom [of the pool] to try and judge my turn and the finish. I was more or less just sort of counting strokes. I sort of know how many strokes I take in a 50, and I was hoping I was going to be dead on and I was going to be able to hit the wall perfectly. I was able to get my hand on the wall first and it was a best time, but I think I was just disappointed that I know I can go faster than that." [Haha, man, this is ridiculous. This guy IS God]
Even with the technical issues, Phelps' wins still smacked of every other race in these games, when Phelps was only shoulder to shoulder with his foes for a mere moment standing on the starting blocks. After that, the world has been a witness to prolonged amazement, to the point where his races in Beijing have attracted the likes of U.S. President George W. Bush, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and countless other individuals who are stars in their own right.
But to truly understand Phelps' impact, you have to listen to his teammates, who have spent their lives training for this moment but are finding an extra bit of inspiration watching Phelps.
Swimmers like America's Aaron Peirsol, who will go down as one of the best U.S. swimmers ever, having captured three gold medals in Athens and who is favored to leave Beijing with three more. One of Phelps' more measured teammates, Peirsol has always been respectful of his touted teammate, while also repeatedly pointing out that the rest of American swimming is pretty good, too. His message has never been subtle: Phelps is great, but he's still part of a team.
And yet, even Peirsol was among those most impressed Tuesday, when Phelps had captured his third straight gold.
"It may be ONCE in a century we see something like this", he said. "The rest of the world is catching up to the U.S., the way I look at it quite a bit. For him to be doing what he's doing at this moment in time, with the rest of the world coming up the way it is, I think that speaks volumes. And the way he's attacking this meet, too...he's not just winning, he's absolutely DESTROYING every race. It's awesome to watch. It's inspiring to me."
"Every time I watch him swim, I'm more and more in awe of what he does", said three time gold-medalist Natalie Coughlin. "Being his teammate and being part of the team while he's doing all this kind of gives us a different perspective. I think years and years down the road we'll realize more and more how amazing and special he is."
And yet, in a charming way, in a way that truly doesn't smack of false modesty, Phelps hardly seems to notice his own greatness. When Phelps locked up his ninth gold, his coach, Bob Bowman, casually reminded him of the company he had entered: Lewis, Spitz, Nurmi and Latynina. Four supremely talented athletes who, before Wednesday, had created the most elite Olympic fraternity.
"You're tied", Bowman told Phelps.
"Huh," he replied. "That's pretty cool."
Maybe that nonchalance was part of how Phelps got to Wednesday, and how he will take the gold medal record and advance it to the stratosphere. Fourteen, 16, 18 ? There is no telling how many gold medals Phelps will have when he is through. And he rarely thinks about that big picture, anyway, which may be one of the defining traits of his greatness.
"He never tries to make a quantum leap", Bowman said. "It's always just one more step. When you're kind of at the top of the mountain, the steps are pretty high. Even one more step takes you pretty far away from everyone else."
Wednesday's step is arguably more remarkable than any step in the games that came before it. From Athens to Beijing, Phelps has now gone where no Olympian before him has traveled.