Heavy Medal

By Martin Ihekemiheke@gmail.com

What can you say about Michael Phelps? Every time we see this guy swim, he continues to amaze us. He has a total of twenty-two medals, with eighteen of them gold. Incredible! That is the most of any athlete in modern Olympic history. It is not like this guy is old either. He is twenty-seven years old and looks like he can compete in one more Olympics. Unfortunately, he said that this Olympics will be his last but what a way to leave the sport on top. In his final event last Saturday in the 4×100-meter medley relay, Phelps in vintage fashion with his trademark butterfly stroke led his team to gold.

“I’ve been able to do everything that I wanted,” Phelps said according to ESPN.com. “I was able to really put the final cherry on top tonight, put all the whipped cream I wanted and sprinkles. I was able to top off the sundae. It’s been a great career. It’s been a great journey. I can’t be any more happy than I am,” as Phelps continued. What a career for this guy. Who would have thought when he competed in his first Olympics at Sydney, Australia in 2000 as a fifteen-year old that twelve years later, we would be talking about him as one of if not the greatest Olympian of all time. He collected his first eight medals in eight events at Athens, Greece in 2004 with six of them being gold. He did this at the age of nineteen. People were wondering if Phelps was primed to break Mark Spitz’s record of winning seven gold medals in 1972. Phelps made that a goal as he ended up winning eight gold medals in 2008 in Beijing, China. By the way, he set new world records in all eight events.

He collected six more medals in this year’s Olympics in London with four of them being gold, which totals twenty-two medals overall with eighteen of them being gold. The one thing that struck me most about the medals he has won is how he was able to three-peat in five different events in three different Olympics. Those five events being the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, 4×100-meter medley relay, 4×200-meter freestyle relay and 200-meter individual medley. I know some of those events are team-oriented and you have to have great teammates to excel as well, but to be able to accomplish this feat takes determination and tremendous skill to pull this off. Michael Phelps exemplifies this and it is a wonderful credit to him.

When it comes to legends in other sports, you immediately think of the first name that pops up in your mind in that particular sport. For me, in basketball that is Michael Jordan. In hockey, that is Wayne Gretzky. In golf, that is Tiger Woods and in tennis that is Roger Federer. When I think of swimming, I will think of Michael Phelps. How could you not? This guy just won twenty-two medals in Olympic play! Now the debate comes if he is the greatest Olympian of all time. Normally, this type of discussion is subjective and opinions can vary. You can make the case for a Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe or Carl Lewis. There might be others that I have not mentioned, but when it comes to Michael Phelps and his twenty-two medals, it is really hard to argue against the fact that he is the greatest Olympian of all time. Personally, I think he is and the fact that the sport of swimming can be so demanding and draining having to train for a lot different events like Phelps has is quite an amazing feat.

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