You must all know by now that Michael Phelps won eight swimming gold medals in the Beijing Olympic Games. That’s an all-time record.
The previous record was seven golds, set by American Mark Spitz in Munich in 1972. Numbers don’t lie, Phelps broke Spitz’s record, by 1 medal.
On August 16, Phelps beat Serbia’s Milorad Cavic by 100th of a second in the 100-meter butterfly final to claim his 7th gold medal, which means that Phelps broke Spitz’s record by 100th of a second, the smallest margin possible in the pool.
I don’t mean to minimize Phelps’ record. The man won 16 Olympic medals in his life, including 14 golds. He is probably the greatest swimmer of all time. What he did in Beijing is one the greatest feats in sport history. No question. No discussion.
But, even though what Phelps did had never been done before –he attempted it four years ago in Athens but failed--, it is barely better than Spitz.
Phelps broke seven world records in Beijing, so did Spitz in Munich.
As much as Phelps deserves to be praised and his achievement celebrated, part of what he did was to remind us how fantastic a swimmer Spitz was.
It could have been a nice gesture for somebody to invite him to Beijing. USA Swimming. FINA The IOC. NBC. Somebody.