The question has to be asked.? It was a close race and anyone that saw it had to think “holy shit how did Phelps make up the distance at the final lunge?”? That was my thought.? Still, he won and on Saturday night during the relay it amazed me how many people were pumped up for that race.? A swimming race, no less.
At this downtown Portland bar, people were chanting “USA! USA! USA!” at the start of the race, banging their tables during it and yelping after Phelps secured his eighth gold medal.? It was a moment of pride for an American athlete the likes I have never seen in my life.? Ever (born months before 1980 Miracle on Ice).? Perhaps not since Michael Johnson in Atlanta 1996 has the country rallied around one particular individual, you know just to see if they’ll live up to the lofty expectations.
But did Phelps win the 100m Butterfly? At this point does it even matter?? I say it doesn’t.? Of course, the crowd on Saturday would have been considerably less animated if Phelps lost his previous race.? But it’s an interesting conspiracy theory, nonetheless.? Someone needs to call Mulder and Scully and get on this.
Sports Illustrated has a nice frame by frame look at the last seconds of the race.? For his part, Milo Cavic seems to be taking his loss with an Olympian-amount of humility and pride. He and his country should be proud of him.
Curiously, Omega sponsors Michael Phelps and also created the timing system used in the Olympic Pool.? It’s accurate down to the 1000th of a second, which is more accurate than the pool itself.? Meaning that the pool lengths aren’t guaranteed to be even, so the race is timed to the 100th second.? It goes without saying that Omega has a vested interest in the success of Phelps.
Still, who really cares?? In a year or month from now no one will remember any of this, only that Phelps is arguably the greatest Olympic athlete of all time and has all but assured he will be Athlete of the Year.
I still think Mark Spitz could outswim him though, given that he swam with a mustache and a quasi-afro and Phelps is all sleek, shaved and benefits from Speedo’s swimwear technology.? A debate for another day.