Monday, August 18, 2008

2008 Beijing Summer Olympics - Michael Phelps Goes 8 For 8

The Blot has watched so much Olympic coverage over the past 10 days that my head hurts. When NBC announced they would be airing more Olympic coverage of the Beijing Games than of all of the coverage of the previous summer and winter Olympics combined they weren’t kidding! And yet even with all of this coverage the ratings are higher than ever.

U.S. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
Michael Phelps Swims For His 8th Gold Medal At The 2008 Beijing Summer OlympicsOne reason for this has to be that all of the United States has been following the amazing feats of American swimmer Michael Phelps. He’s won all 8 races he competed in and broke 7 World Records and 1 Olympic Record in the process becoming the only Olympic athlete ever to win 8 gold medals in a single Olympic Games. This surpasses the record set by American swimmer Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games where he won 7 gold medals in 7 events and set 7 World Records.

United States Olympic Swimming Greats: Michael Phelps and Mark SpitzDid anyone catch the joint interview Bob Costas did with Phelps and Spitz after Phelps tied Spitz’s record? I thought Spitz was so gracious and called Phelps’ accomplishments epic. Spitz went so far as to call Phelps the greatest swimmer ever. I was happy to see how well Spitz took the breaking of his record, but I am not sure how I feel about Phelps’ anointment as the best swimmer ever. There have been some amazing swimmers over the past 100 years and to say that Phelps is hands down the greatest seems disrespectful to everything that has come before him.

U.S. Olympic Swimmers Michael Phelps, Brendan Hansen, Jason Lezak and Aaron Peirsol Hold Up Their Gold Medals From The Men's 4x100 Medley RelayOn the one hand swimmers today are bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. The competition Phelps faces every day seems to be much better than the competition in the 70’s and 80’s ever was, but like with all sports it is very hard to compare athletes from different eras. I also have a problem with the crazy rate World and Olympic Records are being broke at these Beijing Olympics. There is not a doubt in my mind that the pool is “juiced.” I’ve even heard that the pool was built deeper than most pools to allow for faster times.

United States Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps Celebrating His 8th Olympic Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics From The Men's 4x100 Medley RelayWhile Phelps’ 8 gold medals are not tarnished at all because of this, it does put many of the time records he set in question. It is unfortunate, because now we’ll never know how many records Phelps would have set in an un-juiced pool. The fact that Spitz set 7 World Records and Phelps set 7 World Records is a wash, but to me the Spitz records seem like a bigger deal. In the end, we’re really discussing apples and oranges and the fact remains that Phelps is now the most decorated U.S. Olympic athlete of all time and has set a feat not likely to be broken for many, many years.

United States of America Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps' Mother Debbie and Sister Hilary Celebrating His Olympic VictoriesOh yeah, can anyone explain to me why Phelps’ sister Hilary was always shown crying after every single gold medal winning race? After Phelps’ first few wins I would have thought the emotional impact of his accomplishments would have lessened. But no, after every single final there she was sobbing next to Phelps’ jubilant mom. I’m a sucker for things like this, but I think crying on eight times in a week might be pushing it. Oh well, I guess she was just stuck in the moment. It did make for some entertaining television and I’m sure NBC praying for Phelps to win and sister Hilary to cry.
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