BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks
Some great Olympic memories are being made this year! Michael Phelps is now declared the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time with 22 medals (18 gold, two silver and two bronze). Phelps has been quoted as saying there will only be one “Michel Phelps.”
Now that his swimming heats are over with at the London Olympics, Phelps is tossing in the towel so-to-speak. He said he is retiring from competing in the sport he loves so much, the sport that made him a household name.
He’s competed in three consecutive Summer Olympics (Athens, Beijing and London). Some sports analysts say he could compete in the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016 at the age of 31, but Phelps insists this is it.
Calling him the greatest athlete of all time is a bit misleading though. How many other Olympic events could an athlete compete in and win up to eight medals in one year? While swimmers can compete in numerous swimming events, our Dream Team basketball players can only win one medal per Olympic Games. That makes it impossible to catch up to Phelps’ record.
And while Phelps is a force to be reckoned with, how can you compare him to the likes of Michael Jordan, who he says is his idol, or Muhammad Ali? While their Olympic medals don’t compare, Jordan and Ali are still known as two of the greatest American athletes.
Some other awesome news to come out of this year’s Summer Olympics:
• The first World Record from the London Olympics was broken by the Republic of Korea (South Korea). This was in an archery match.
• Phelps’ fellow teammate and rival swimmer Ryan Lochte, who says he will go on to compete in Rio in 2016, beat Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley to win gold. Phelps came in fourth in the race, which seemed unheard of for a man of his caliber.
• The U.S. female gymnastics team took gold in the team competition, narrowing out Russia.
• Along those lines, Iowa’s Gabby Douglas, who is coached by gymnast Shawn Johnson’s coach in Des Moines, won the gold in the female gymnastic all-around competition. Douglas is dubbed “The Flying Squirrel” based on how she glides through the air in her routines, especially on the uneven bars.
No other U.S. female gymnast has won two gold medals in one Olympics since 1996. The all-around champion team for the U.S. is small, but now includes Douglas, Mary Lou Retton, Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin. Douglas also made history as the first ever African American to win the all-around gold medal.
• The first gold medal of these Olympic Games went to China’s female shooter Yi Siling in the 10-meter air riffle competition.
• U.S. shooter Kimberly Rhode made Olympic history, winning gold in women’s skeet shooting. She shot 99 out of 100 targets, making Rhodes the first American to win an individual sport medal at five consecutive Olympic Games.
• During the men’s team gymnastic event, Japan contested one of its team member’s score on the pommel horse. Before the final score was released, Great Britain was in the running for silver, but ended up winning bronze after the judges conceded and gave Japan a better score, inching them into second place.
• After watching so many of the Olympic events this past week, I have to say, there are some athletes who have poor sportsmanship. When the U.S. female gymnastics team took gold, some of those from the Russian team took it as a blow and were devastated by their second-place ranking. When Gabby Douglas won gold in the all-around, Russian gymnast Viktoria Komova sat down and pouted, tears pouring down her face. Does she know how lucky she is to have won silver? How many people in this world can say they’ve won silver medals in the Olympics for gymnastics? Her teammate Aliya Mustafina won the bronze in the all-around and we didn’t see disappointment from her.
I think the Russian coaches tell their gymnasts that winning less than gold is not acceptable. Some countries give their gold medalists an insane amount of money for winning gold medals in the name of their home country.
With one week left of the Games, the track and field events will surely bring in some record-breaking medals.