Just How Dominant Has Michael Phelps Been?
I feel like at this point the word "dominant" doesn't really do justice to what Michael Phelps has accomplished. I feel like we need a new word to describe what he's done. Maybe he needs to become a verb. Ex: "wow, that guy totally Phelpsed this year's tournament."
At this point, we've all heard the numbers, and maybe it's because he's been so good for so long that the magnitude of his achievements has kinda been lost on us. I know I've felt like "sure, he broke another record, of course he did. He's a stud, that's what he does."
But have you really looked at what Phelps has done? Do you realize how impressive it is and how unlikely it is to happen again?
I don't want to drown you in numbers (no swimming pun intended), but you need to see these numbers to put this all in context.
- Phelps has won a total of 28 medals over 4 summer Olympics, which is more than about 90 countries have ever won in the summer Olympics...ever.
- Those 28 medals are 10 more than the closest Olympic champion, who is/was a Russian gymnast from the 50's and 60's.
- Phelps has won 23 gold medals (both individual and relay teams). That absolutely blows away some athletes who are considered the greatest American Olympians ever. Mark Spitz (swimming) and Carl Lewis (track and field) have the second most gold medals with nine each. Nine.
When will another athlete ever be this dominant/successful? Who knows. Not only do you have to stay healthy enough to compete for 16+ years, you also have to be really good at more than one event/stroke.
Here's some current perspective. Usain Bolt just set a record by winning the 100-meter dash for 3 Olympics in a row. He'll probably win the 200 meter again this year, and Jamaica will probably win the 4 x 100 relay. But to even come close to Phelps, Bolt would have to win these races, for 4 Olympics in a row, and throw in some other events, like maybe the 400 meter, maybe the long jump and/or high jump.
You get my point. Phelps doesn't just kill you in the butterfly - dude can kill you in all 4 strokes, at different distances. It's just amazing, and I'm gonna miss watching that kid. I personally hope he comes back in 2020 in Tokyo.