Thursday, 14 August 2008

Not the winningest

I'm not convinced that Michael Phelps is the winningest athlete and most successful olympian of all time. Not to take anything away from a pretty outstanding achievement, but let's try and put this in perspective. The swimming competition is massive, with loads of events and several different strokes over a variety of distances and with a varying number of actual swimmers. The potential for Phelps to go out and win eight medals is vastly higher due to this. And with three or four good Olympics in him over a 12 to 16 year period, it's quite possible he could get 30 to 40 golds if he stays at the top of his game for London and maybe beyond.

Contrast this to, say, a javelin thrower or a heptathlete, with one event and a comparable 15 to 20 year sporting career, you're only ever going to take away five golds maximum. So a whole bunch of athletes miss out on having a shot at the most successful title, which if judged in the highly objective terms of olympic golds, as the media seems to have decided to do in Michael Phelps' case, is always going to be held by someone with a lot of possible events in their discipline. In other words, a rower, a cyclist or a swimmer.

Anyway, all those swimmers are built like brick shithouses - that's a deluxe, fully air conditioned eight story brick shithouse with concierge service and a swimming pool on the roof - and don't do it for me with their shoulders as wide as a six-lane expressway and their horrible full-body swimsuits. Give me a nice diver any day...

They're already saying Thomas Finchum is this year's Johnny Weir. So he'd definitely be up for it.

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