Giant on the move
Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian of all time? If so, shouldn’t he have a decent nickname by now? And what exactly is this “pantheon” everyone’s talking about?
I’m joined by Julian Linden, Mitch Phillips and Simon Evans for some more knockabout fun on our short but sweet podcast from Beijing. Please check it out and feel free to let us know what you think in the comments. We could use the feedback, frankly.
Michael Phelps is a phenomenal swimmer, possibly the best in history, and if he achieves his target of eight gold medals in Beijing, for an overall tally of 14 (10 of them individual) there is no doubt that he deserves his place in the pantheon.
But the greatest-ever Olympian? That is a big call.
There is no denying that it is tough to win an Olympic swimming gold but, once you reach that standard, there are plenty to harvest. Many of the top swimmers seem capable of racing over 100 metres, 200, 400, often in a variety of strokes, plus the medley, and also seemingly have relays for just about every distance.
There was never any doubt about this one. Michael Phelps won the 200m freestyle, secured his third gold medal of these Games — his third world record, too — and become only the fifth athlete to win nine gold medals at the Summer Olympics.
He joins fellow Americans Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis, Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi and Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina at the top of the all-time list of gold medal winners.
It’s a case of two down, six to go for Michael Phelps after the American swimmer got by with a little help from his friends in the 4x100m freestyle on Monday.
Watching Jason Lezak come from half a length behind on the final leg to seal victory for the U.S. was astonishing, as he kept Phelps in with a shout of his record-breaking haul of eight golds. That was a truly memorable Olympic moment.
Gary Hershorn writes: With Michael Phelps being arguably the biggest story of the Olympics his celebration jumped off the screen after the U.S won an amazingly close race by a fraction of a second over France.
The US had been losing throughout but pulled off victory in the last inch of the race. Phelps’s bid for eight gold medals was saved and his celebration looked completely real.
Michael Phelps smashed his own world record in the 400m individual medley to set off on what could be a record-breaking gold medal trail on day two of real action at the 2008 Olympics.
That was early in the morning and it took until late at night before we had a story that even came close to matching it, with the United States overcoming a slightly unconvincing start to beat China by an emphatic 101-70.
I’m joined today by Mitch Phillips, Karolos Grohmann and swimming expert Julian Linden to talk about the blockbusting start to the swimming from Michael Phelps, the relegation of athletics to second class status this week and all that’s been happening in the IOC corridors of power.
Michael Phelps shattered his own world record to win the 400m individual swimming medley in four minutes 03.84 seconds and claim the first of what could be a record-breaking haul of eight gold medals.
The American swimmer, who won six golds at the last Olympics in Athens, has his sights on beating the record of seven golds bagged by Mark Spitz in 1972. The secondary target is four golds to take him ahead of Spitz, Carl Lewis, Finnish middle and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi and Larysa Latynina, the former Soviet gymnast, in the list of athletes with the most gold medals at the Olympics (currently nine).
The opening day of real competition at the Olympic Games produced seven gold medals, two of them for China and one each for the United States, South Korea, Romania, Spain and Czech Republic.
There was a pall cast over the day’s sporting events, however, as a Chinese man stabbed to death the father-in-law of a U.S. Olympic coach at a Beijing tourist spot before taking his own life.