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One Last Point: Olympic Gods

 

The 2012 Olympics began with a cinematic extravaganza put on by Hollywood director Danny Boyle that was augmented by special effects crew and special appearances from royalty; real and imagined.

I missed the opening ceremonies, but I’m afraid I didn’t miss much. When I heard that the fireworks display had digital explosions added to it for anyone watching it on TV, I wondered what the point was. 

Aren’t the games about the best in the world competing on a universal stage to claim dominance for a four year period?

It felt like Boyle’s production was on steroids, much like the Chinese swim team from the 1990s. Of course, with Great Britain having to follow China’s amazing opening ceremonies from 2008, it’s not surprising that the 2012 opening ceremonies had to be digitally enhanced.

I’m just surprised that they weren’t shown in 3-D.

Maybe by the time the Olympics are held in Rio De Janeiro in 2016 we’ll be able to feel the water splashing us as Phelps dives into the pool to chase yet another gold medal.

Oh, wait.

Phelps chasing gold medals ... that seems to be all that he is doing this year.

Getting out-touched in the last few seconds of the 200-meter fly race where he dominated 4 years ago. What is up with that? It looked like he coasted to the finish, and got out-hustled at the end. 

Sure, the American press claims that he “won” second place, but you know what they say – “second place is just first place loser.” (I would attribute the quote to someone, but I don’t know for sure who said it first, George Steinbrenner or Dale Earnhardt.)

Granted the 4x200-meter freestyle relay team took gold, but that was a team effort and Phelps was quoted by USA Today saying, “You better give me a big lead,” to his team.

They did give him a big lead, two seconds ahead of their nearest competitors, France, but it is a team sport and the team won the medal, not Phelps.

I’ve got to say, I’ve lost all respect for Phelps. 

I’ll admit that what he did in Beijing was great. Winning eight medals in one Olympics is something 10 percent of the world only dreams about, and less than one percent actually accomplishes. But, he trained hard for it. He dedicated his life to training for one purpose, to win.

I didn’t lose respect for his taking a year off, or having his picture taken with a pot pipe in his hands or being caught smoking dope – although it didn’t help – I lost respect for him, because when he made the decision to compete in the 2012 games, he was lackadaisical about it.

He would skip practice, not stick to his work-out regimen, and generally disregard the sacrifice that others were making to help him make his dreams a reality.

When an athlete makes a decision to compete – especially in the Olympic games – they are making, not only a personal commitment, but a commitment to the people they represent. 

He took the easy way for the first year of his training, and then tried to make up for his lack of drive by using a hyperbaric chamber to artificially enhance his stamina by sleeping at the equivalent of an altitude of 9,000 feet.

In essence, he cheated, and where did that get him? 

Second place.

 

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