Giant on the move
This is a long shot, I know, but if Michael Phelps suddenly decided to break away from the United States and declare himself a sovereign nation, he’d currently be joint-fourth in the medals table at the Olympics — level with the U.S.
A glance to the right of this blog will show China leading with 20 golds and the U.S. second on 10. Phelps has won, or helped win five of those and with three more in his sights over the last few days of the swimming he could take his personal tally to eight.
That would put him out on his own in second.
Phelps, of course, would have to re-swim the relay races, completing each leg himself, but the way he’s going at the moment you wouldn’t put anything past him.
No? How about Saturday Night Fencing? Or maybe: Welcome to The Kayak Bowl!
The big U.S. broadcaster is paying a fortune to televise minority sports such as these from the Beijing Olympics, but don’t expect it to remake its fall TV sports schedule, no matter how many Golds Americans win at them.
Poor 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.
In all the excitement over Michael Phelps and his bid for eight golds it’d be easy to overlook a few other extraordinary achievements at the Games today.
Amid the gold rush at the Water Cube, Rebecca Adlington won Britain’s first Olympic women’s swimming title in nearly half a century with a victory in the 400 metres freestyle that was every bit as exciting as the American relay win that kept Phelps’s hopes of eight golds alive.
Weightlifting is not the most glamorous Olympic sport. Forget about glitzy endorsement deals, tabloid tell-alls and magazine shoots. This is a world where taciturn men from Belarus and compact women from China win their gold medals in relative obscurity.
But for 67 minutes on Saturday morning, weightlifting had its place in the limelight.