Changing China

Giant on the move

Phelps is so good the rest have their sights on silver

August 13, 2008

Phelps’s mother kisses her sonPoor Laszlo Cseh, the Hungarian who twice in these Games has finished second to Michael Phelps, was quite frank when asked by a reporter whether he had thought, during Wednesday’s 200m butterfly that he could actually beat Michael Phelps.

“It never even crossed my mind,” he said.

That should tell you everything about how much better Phelps is than his rivals — they know they are swimming for silver medal at best and that can’t be much fun.

A Hungarian reporter told me that Cseh had spent two months deep down in the dumps after last year’s world championships when he realised how unstoppable Phelps was and that all his work was targeted towards trying to be the next best.

The Russian team, who on Wednesday finished second in the 4×200 freestyle relay to the Phelps-led U.S squad, were a likeable bunch of lads who were beaming at the post-race press conference, as if they had actually won gold.

When they were asked about how they rated Phelps, all four of them laughed. “He may be human but he’s from a different planet,” said Alexander Sukhorukov.

Phelps insisted he wasn’t unbeatable but watching him leave the fastest swimmers in the world in his wake throughout this week it really is hard to picture him fighting for second best.

Statistically, in terms of gold medals, Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian of all-time.

Whether or not he is the greatest Olympian of all time (join the debate here) it is hard to think of any other athlete who has so utterly dominated his opponents in so many events as Phelps.

He has simply turned the rest of the field into also-rans — and yet, like Laszlo Cseh — still they try.

For a factbox on Michael Phelps click here. This piece by Crispian Balmer on the Phelps phenomenon is also an excellent read.


grat for Phelps and i just truly hope that his blood tests will remain clear from dope even after 8 years from now! not like Marion Jones’…. Go Laci Cseh! The next olympics is yours…

Posted by Andras Selmeczi | Report as abusive

Really Andras? Are you serious? It’s not like Hungary has ever had a problem with doping…it’s not like, for example, Hunagrian hammer thrower Adrian Annus was stripped of a gold or discus thrower Robert Fazekas stripped of a gold as well in 2004! What you are saying is completely unfair, after all, all eyes are on Phelps! It is impossible that he could be doping even a drop because the story would break faster than the bubonic plague.
I suggest you keep to blindly protesting and hating Gyurcsany and whatever else the fanatic/eurocentric sect in Hungary does.
But, yes, I do agree that Michael Phelps and Laszlo Cseh are perhaps the two greatest swimmers in the world. Normal Hungarians, like me, can be very proud of the achievement Laszlo Cseh has accomplished without the need to make stupid accusations!

Posted by Gabriel Szekes | Report as abusive

I am sorry to inform you but Robert Fazekas and Adrian Annus never tested 100% positive for dope, they did not give enough sample on the day of their event and that was the main accusation, similar story with Agi Kovacs who also got into the shadow of doping. In addition i dont know if you guys know that the first person to be tested for doping right at his arrival was Laszlo Cseh, Micheal Phelps’main rival which is pretty unsual. Oh yeah, and have you heard bout an american breastroker getting caught for doping right before the olimpics, i vent heard any Hungarian “SWIMMERS” getting caught before, and you re also forgetting thatmaybe the States has 1000* for money to develop dope, those things shouldbekept in mind, and NO i am not saying that Phelps isacheater but there is a serious possibility that he is not 100% clean…

Posted by Almos | Report as abusive

Attn to: Gabriel Szekes
Innocent is innocent until proved otherwise!
Noone has proved so far tha Fazekas and Annus cheated, they provided samples mate!
I am even proud of them!

Posted by Alex65 | Report as abusive

I think Laszlo Cseh should stop thinking that he’s all for second best. I think anybody can beat Phelps. Especially these past years after the Olympics, he had experienced being beaten. I think Cseh will have his chance and I think it will be easy for him if he start thinking that HE CAN BEAT PHELPS- and LOCHTE. Nothing is impossible. I’d like to see him on top of the podium wearing a gold medal in 2012. Best of luck. Don’t lose heart.

Posted by swimmingfan | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see