Let’s realize the greatness that we just witnessed. I know it’s men’s swimming that we are talking about here - and that for the other three years that don’t have a summer Olympics he’s nothing more than a Subway spokesman – but Jared never won 22 medals.
This was supposed to be the Olympics that he finally fell. Ryan Lochte was all set to come in and steal all of Phelps’ shine. And it began just like that with Lochte winning gold in his first race and Phelps not even medaling. After the race, as commercial after commercial starring Ryan Lochte kept playing, Phelps gave an interview in which he didn’t seem angry or depressed, just confused.
And who could blame him? He was feeling something that was totally foreign to him for over a decade – Olympic let down. He had lost before, but to not medal was something reserved for normal people. And Michael Phelps is anything but normal. When you don’t take a day off, for anything, for over 15 years, your chances of being normal are very slim. Then when you add in the fact that his mom is Debbie Phelps, and Debbie Phelps is a lunatic, the chances get even smaller.
Michael Phelps has both of those things going against him. Add in his freakish wingspan, ridiculous talent, lisp and the strange ear/eye thing he has going on and it’s amazing this guy can actually speak to reporters in coherent sentences. When you’re Michael Phelps, it’s impossible to be normal.
You can see it in the way he talks, moves, speaks – he’s more comfortable in the pool. Life probably makes a lot more sense in there than it does out here with the regular people. It’s hard to get in trouble inside the pool, but outside you’re Michael Phelps, and that comes with a price. A price that seemed to start to take its toll on him.
I was surprised when Phelps said that he was going to race in London. He was very outspoken about not having the drive and passion he had in the past and basically said that he didn’t want to race again. I’d imagine swimming can get a little old after 2o years.
Then he kind of halfheartedly decided to get back in to it (most likely at Debbie’s “suggestion”). Other swimmers saw blood in the water. An aging Phelps with less discipline, focus and training? It seemed a foregone conclusion that he was going to be embarrassed at this Olympics.
This was supposed to tarnish Michael Phelps’ resume. Ryan Lochte was supposed to be the new hot guy. He was Michael Phelps mixed with an Abercombie Model, and Phelps was asking to be beat. Everyone was getting ready to turn on him for being spoiled, a momma’s boy who was wasting his gifts playing golf and hitting huge bongs.
Instead, here we are. Phelps’ grand total stands at 22 – the best there is and ever was. Michael Jordan in a speedo, Wayne Gretzky with goggles, Muhammad Ali in a swim cap, Dong Dong with a shaved body – none of them aptly apply to the dominance of Michael Phelps. There’s nothing that compares to him because there is no comparison – nobody has ever done this before. Nobody in the history of the world has ever been this good at any sport before… ever.
So appreciate the greatness, because athletes like this don’t come around very often. Although if I know Debbie Phelps like I think I do, we may not have seen the last of Michael Phelps greatness at the Olympics.