This past week, the world witnessed something special. What we saw not only transcended the sport of swimming but the world of athletics as well. Michael Phelps come into Beijing with an impossible goal: to win every race he swam. He would have to race several times in the same day on a schedule that will break any other human in the planet in half. He proceeded to not just win every race, he also broke 7 world records in the process. Phelps come into the Olympics not just with an unprecedented amount of pressure for any single athlete in history. When Mark Spitz won 7 golds, the world was not watching his every move waiting to see if the feat was possible. All the great athletes have had to deal with pressure and overcome obstacles in their road to greatness. Last week Michael Phelps took greatness to a different level, last week we witnessed what perfection looks like.
In the past few days I have seen several articles of different sources trying to put down what he accomplished. Several excuses from confused journalists (most of them have never played athletics a high level) talk about what they can’t comprehend, what they simply never experienced and find excuses to put down the single greatest accomplishment by a human being in sports history.
Here are some of the excuses I have read and heard:
1. Swimming is an easy sport: I challenge anyone to swim a 10×200 meters butterfly repeats without breaking stroke and taken no longer than 30 seconds rest. When you are done then write talk again about how easy swimming is. Before that talk about the things you know and avoid sounding so dumb.
2. Not a lot of people swim competitively so it easier to be the best: more people compete in swimming in the world than other sports that are very popular in America. Across the globe swimming is bigger than football, baseball and hockey by a long shoot. By these standards (most people participating in the sport) then Tiger Woods would not make it into the top 500 athletes and soccer players will have the top 50 spots reserved.
3. He is not a multisport athlete like Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan: swimming strokes are very different from each other and different distances require training in different energy systems. When you are a baseball player you can crosstrain playing football or basketball. You can also be a track athlete and that will translate to almost any team sport in land. Swimming is performed in a different environment and while there are things you can do outside the pool to enhance performance, nothing translates to swimming. You cab be a great basketball, baseball, soccer or football player and drown in the pool. Michael Phelps is and unprecedented multi talented aquatic athlete. By the way, how did Jordan do on his MLB career?
Michael Phelps might not have played a popular sport but he did dominate one of the hardest sports to train for at a time when the sport is at its peak. Swimmers from all over the world tried to prevent Phelps rise to perfection and they failed. Now, confused journalist are trying to minimize his feat but they will fail too, because the parameters are simple: Michal Phelps dominates a sport that has competitors all over the planet at a time when the sport is at it’s peak and training methods are highly developed. Phelps’ feat does not take anything away from Maradona, Jordan, Pele, Muhamed Ali, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Carl Lewis or Mark Spitz but it does put him into a category of his own: the phelpsian dimension.
In conclusion, even if you feel that Michael Phelps is not the greatest ever it is best for our sake to sit down and learn. Phelps’s success was based in the following principles:
1. Develop your strengths and use them to your advantage: the underwater kick in the turns.
2. Develop your weakness until you don’t have them: the breaststroke leg in the IM races.
3. Develop yourself as a human being also: in his interviews he keep thanking his teammates and he was at a loss for words to describe his unique accomplishments. Did you see that Terrel Owens?
4. Turn every event into a motivational opportunity:Ian Thorpe saying the 8 golds were not possible, the French trash taking before the relay and Cavic declaring he was going to ruin Phelps rise to perfection where akin to trowing gasoline to an already well lit fire.
5. Win at all costs without cheating: Major League Baseball and the Tour de France should take a page from this book.
6. Stay true to yourself: Phelps’s mom was in camera almost as much as he was. Phelps isn’t only the greatest athlete to ever live, he is also a great human being and that is a breath a fresh air. 해외스포츠