Posted tagged ‘USA Swimming’

Opinion: Why Such a Fuss Over Michael Phelps’ Pot Photo?

February 6, 2009

Great opinion piece by John Leicester of the Associated Press today on this topic.

Here’s a link to more information about this story, as well as the photo in question.

From the article:

So Michael Phelps seemingly puffed a pot pipe on his own time. Bad boy.

It would have been a bigger deal had he illegally used marijuana to help his record-breaking Olympic performance in Beijing last summer — toking on a water pipe to cope with the stress of the Water Cube.

But no, Phelps was stupidly — perhaps venally — photographed out of competition at a party apparently taking a misguided step down a path trampled by at least two U.S. presidents and the Woodstock generation that taught its kids that the ’60s were swinging and that weed, for some, was part of the fun.

Yes, drugs ruin many lives, and a South Carolina sheriff is doing his job investigating whether charges are warranted. Phelps escaped with little more than a slap on the wrist from his governing body, USA Swimming. Suspending him from competition for three months still leaves him time to sharpen up for July’s world championships. By then, a lot of this smoke and fire will surely have blown over.

The questions Phelps’ fans and sudden new foes (fair-weather friends?) need to be asking are:

  • Why are they so disappointed?
  • Do such errors, however felonious or fragrant the fumes, deserve such a mountain of fuss?

The problem here is not Phelps, but the golden pedestals we build for him and other athletes simply because they swim fast, hit balls out of the park or bend free kicks into goal. By turning sports-people into super-heroes, we’ve set ourselves up for the fall.

Stadiums are more packed than churches. Many spend more on season tickets than they do on giving to charity. Count the number of pages devoted to sports in your newspaper, then count the number for foreign news. Do Manchester United or the Los Angeles Lakers really deserve your attention more than Gaza and global warming?

If anyone has a drug problem it’s us, the sports fans addicted to seeing how far the human body can be pushed, especially when it’s not our own.

Of course, it’s preferable if athletes don’t take performance-enhancing drugs or ruin their young bones and sinews by being pushed beyond the limit, ending their careers before they’ve barely begun. Most definitely, it would be better if sportsmen and women had well-rounded personalities and educations as developed as their muscles, and were not thrown into pools as youngsters and told to swim up and down all day.

But the sorry truth is that many fans don’t really care, as long as their teams and stars give them that buzz of triumph. If, perhaps even when, Phelps scoops up yet more gold medals in 2012 at the London Olympics, his What a Dope! photo in the British tabloid News of the World will be just a hazy memory for those who again will cheer him on. Chest-thump anyone?

Perhaps we’re the potty ones to have become so enamored and expect so much of people whose job happens to be kicking a ball around, getting it through a hoop or, in Phelps’ case, giving fish a run for their money. Surely, there must be more worthy role models out there.

The argument that Phelps is held to higher standards than, say, Janis Joplin, simply because sponsors have paid him megabucks does not hold water either. Sponsors throw cash at people like Phelps because we’re dumb enough to lust after and buy the products our ‘sports heroes’ endorse.

That joke is on us.

Michael Phelps Won the 100 Meter Butterfly: Omega Provides Photographic Proof

August 24, 2008

it appears that we finally have photographic proof that Michael Phelps indeed beat Milorad Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly last week.

From the Associated Press:

Official timekeeper Omega released a digital photo sequence of last week’s riveting 100-meter butterfly finish at the Olympics—and it’s still not clear to the naked eye just who won.


Phelps (left) and Cavic (right). Credit: Omega/AP

However, according to Omega timer Silvio Chianese, the results are clear.

“In the third set of images, with Phelps on the left, it is clear he is really pushing hard, while Cavic, on the right, is just arriving,” Chianese told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Last week’s victory gave Phelps his seventh gold medal of the games, tying him with Mark Spitz for most golds in a single Olympics. A day later, Phelps won his eighth gold as a member of the United States’ 400 medley relay squad.

Phelps’ time of 50.58 seconds was confirmed after a review down to the 10-thousandth of a second; Cavic’s time was 50.59.

Photo Phelps (left) and Cavic.

(AP Photo/Omega)

Chianese explained that it requires 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of pressure to activate the touchpad.

The photos were taken by Omega cameras placed directly above the finish line, slightly angled to include two lanes in each photo.

Chianese said the touchpad is the primary source to determine the race winner, while the photos can only be used as backup material.

It still will go down as the greatest finish in an Olympic swimming event and has provided heated debate over the past week. Thoughts?

Michael Phelps Breaks Mark Spitz’s Record; Wins Eighth Gold Medal

August 17, 2008

He did it! Move over Mark Spitz, Michael Phelps is the new all time record holder!

Michael Phelps has broken Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals in a single Olympic games with his win this evening anchoring the United States to a world record in the 400-meter medley relay.

Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

Credit: Agence France-Presse - Getty Images

From ESPN:

Cheering from the pool deck, Michael Phelps won his record eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games on Sunday to become the grandest of Olympic champions.

Jason Lezak held on to the lead Phelps gave him, anchoring the United States to a world record in the 400-meter medley relay against an Australian team that did its best to spoil history.

But Phelps, with a big hand from three teammates, would not be denied. He eclipsed Mark Spitz’s seven-gold performance at the 1972 Munich Games, an iconic performance that was surpassed by a swimmer fitting of this generation: a 23-year-old from Baltimore who loves hip-hop music and texting with his buddies.

New York Times

Credit: New York Times

From the New York Times:

Phelps is a self-described klutz, a real fish out of water on land, with a surgical scar on his right wrist to prove it. The 23-year-old Phelps took a nasty stumble last October that imperiled his pursuit of Mark Spitz’s single Games record of seven gold medals. He slipped on a patch of ice and fell while climbing into a friend’s car in Michigan and broke his right wrist.

It made for a tough start to the training cycle that carried him through these Beijing Games, but the climax was perfect: On Sunday morning, Phelps was on the United States’ 4×100-meter medley relay that held off Australia for the victory, giving Phelps his eighth gold medal of these Games and his 14th over all. Winning in 3 minutes 29.34 seconds, the Americans set a world record, Phelps’s seventh of the Games.

Spitz’s record lasted 36 years, and it figures to be even longer before the world sees Phelps’s successor. In 1972, Spitz swam two strokes, the freestyle and the butterfly, and none of his swims covered more than 200 meters. Phelps swam all four strokes, at distances ranging from 100 to 400 meters, and was faced with three swims in each individual event, one more than Spitz had.

Carl Da Souza/Getty Images

Credit: Carl Da Souza/Getty Images

This could go down in history as one of the greatest sports accomplishments of all time. Michael Phelps captivated an entire nation over the past week and brought a nation together to root for an impossible dream which has now become a reality. Congratulations Michael Phelps!

Michael Phelps Record Tying Victory Under Protest; UPDATE

August 16, 2008

ESPN is reporting that the race in which Michael Phelps won his seventh gold medal is under protest by Serbia. Phelps got his hand on the wall a hundredth of a second ahead of Serbia’s Milorad Cavic. More news on this should be available shortly.


The protest has been dropped. Phelps has won his seventh gold medal of the 2008 Olympics.

Photo Finish: Michael Phelps Wins Record Tying Seventh Gold Medal

August 16, 2008

Michael Phelps has tied Mark Spitz all time record of seven gold medals in a single Olympic Games with his victory tonight in the 100 meter butterfly. In what has to be the closest race in Olympic swimming history, Phelps won the race by .01 seconds in a time of 50.58, barely edging out Milorad Cavic of Serbia.

From the New York Times:

Michael Phelps has caught Mark Spitz, 36 years after Spitz’s record haul of seven gold medals at the Munich Games. Now it may take only a day for Spitz to be left behind.

This was Phelps’ toughest race yet, but when he touched the wall, he had his 13th career gold medal, elevating his own record set Friday with a victory in the 200-meter individual medley.

Phelps is finished with individual races in Beijing. Now the eighth gold medal is somewhat out of his control; he’ll stand on the deck as a cheerleader for his teammates’ legs of his last event, the 400 medley relay, on Sunday morning.

What a race! Phelps had to come from behind and won in as close a race as there could have possibly been. Now, with one race remaining, Phelps is on the doorstep of history. Thoughts?

Michael Phelps Wins Sixth Gold Medal

August 15, 2008

Michael Phelps is only one gold medal short of tying Mark Spitz record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics. Phelps won the 200 meter individual medley in 1 minute, 54.23 seconds and in winning the race, lowered his own world record of 1:54.80 set at last month’s U.S. trials.

From the New York Times:

One of the few remaining men standing between Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz at the Beijing Olympics looks as if he should be working behind the counter of a video store, not racing to ruin Phelps’s cinematic ending.

By now, it is obvious how large an obstacle Lochte was facing in Phelps, who has been America’s gold standard in the 200 I.M. since 2002. Going into the summer, Phelps had 7 of the 10 fastest swims in the event, with Lochte owning the other three.

Laszlo Cseh of Hungary took the silver in 1:56.52, his third runner-up finish to Phelps in these games. Ryan Lochte earned the bronze in 1:56.53. Phelps is on the cusp of history and it does not appear that anyone is even in his league in these Olympics. Thoughts?