Gold Rush; at a History-Making Olympics, a Swimmer at His Best and Two Young Gymnasts Who Shone Brightest When It Counted Most Have Given Us Miracle Moments

By Gordon, Devin | Newsweek, August 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

Gold Rush; at a History-Making Olympics, a Swimmer at His Best and Two Young Gymnasts Who Shone Brightest When It Counted Most Have Given Us Miracle Moments


Gordon, Devin, Newsweek


Byline: Devin Gordon (With T. Trent Gegax)

At 7:52 p.m., 19-year-old Michael Phelps touched the wall after the 200-meter butterfly final last week, then looked up and found the familiar "1" next to his name on the scoreboard. He pumped his fist twice and climbed out of the water. He didn't smile. He didn't have time. A minute before 8, he got his earlobe pricked for a blood lactate test to determine how fast his fatigued muscles were recovering--an on-the-fly checkup. Next he hit the warm-down pool for 17 minutes, coasting about 1,200 meters to keep his muscles loose. He toweled off at 8:20, changed from his short-leg swimsuit to the long legs--a superstition--and re-emerged for the gold-medal ceremony. At 8:27, as Phelps waited behind the podium for his name to be announced, he did something we may never see again at the Olympics: he started stretching. In 13 minutes, Phelps had to get back in the pool for the lead leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay. He swam fast, handing off a big lead, and then watched nervously as relay anchor Klete Keller withstood a furious charge from Australian superstar Ian Thorpe to give the United States a heart-stopping win. This time Phelps went nuts. "I don't think I've ever celebrated like that in my entire life," he said afterward, a giant smile creasing his face like an accordion.

It was fitting that Phelps, the multitasking, multistroke medal machine, should derive so much more joy from a team victory than a personal one. The historic first week of the Olympics for the United States was repeatedly defined by perseverance of the mind and stoutness of soul--and not the ugly ego-tripping for which so many U.S. stars have been remembered. Start with gymnast Paul Hamm, flat on his back and dead to rights after a disastrous vault, believing he had ruined his dreams of a gold medal in the individual all-around. But he smothered his anguish and stormed back from 12th place to gold in just two rotations for the most stunning victory in gymnastics history. The next night Carly Patterson completed a first-ever gold-medal double for the United States, sticking to her floor routine to overcome Russia's Svetlana Khorkina in the all-around. (And don't look now, but even the much-maligned men's basketball team seems to be... nope, never mind, they just lost again.) But above all, there was Phelps, who needed just one week to secure a place in the pantheon of Olympic legends like Jesse Owens, Dorothy Hamill, Carl Lewis and, yes, Mark Spitz. That last name disappeared from the Phelps conversation unexpectedly early, as two bronze medals in his first three races put Spitz's seven-gold-medal feat out of reach.

It was the best thing to happen to Phelps all week. Free to write his own story, he came up with a doozy. His astonishing eight-medal total, including six golds and a pair of not-too-shabby bronzes, matched an Olympic record for most in a single Games. (Only Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin had done it before--at the U.S.-boycotted Moscow Games in 1980--and only three of his were gold.) "It'll sink in when he's 40," said his coach Bob Bowman. "He knows it's historic, but he doesn't know what history is yet." The Baltimore teenager entered these games as the next Mark Spitz. He'll leave them as the first Michael Phelps.

Before he exited, though, Phelps had one more trick up his sleeve, and it may be the one that comes to define his career. After wrapping up a week for the ages, he also proved himself to be the consummate teammate by withdrawing from his final race, the 400m medley relay, to give a demoralized friend one more shot at gold.

Ian Crocker, a quiet 21-year-old from Maine, was having a nightmarish time. Plagued by a sore throat, he bombed in the 400m freestyle relay and the 100m freestyle. He knew he had to win the 100 fly over Phelps on Friday to earn a slot in Saturday's medley relay final, and after 50 meters he had a commanding lead. But Phelps surged forward and caught Crocker at the wall, winning by four hundredths of a second--a fingernail. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Gold Rush; at a History-Making Olympics, a Swimmer at His Best and Two Young Gymnasts Who Shone Brightest When It Counted Most Have Given Us Miracle Moments
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.