His teenage years were spent swimming laps after laps, thousand of hour watching the black line at the bottom of the pool. For 5 year he did not take a day off. And at the age of 15 he become the youngest male to make a U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years. While he did not win a medal, he did make the finals and finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly. At such a young age people have already started to compare him to Mark Spitz, one of the greatest swimmer of America. A rigid focus Phelps didn’t stop practicing and payoff came at 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won 6 gold and 2 bronze, an extraordinary achievement for a teenager. Than came Beijing, a chance to make history. To win 8 gold Phelps swim 17 times in 9 days, he beat Serbia’s Milorad Cavic by fraction of a second. Winning 8 gold in single Olympics is the greatest sports accomplishment of our time. The size of this achievement is such that is Michael Phelps had participated as nation, he would have made it to the top 10 nation with most gold medals. Winning 6 gold in London, 2016 he made sure that his name remain on the top for a long time.
Few days from now, Michael Phelps will participate for the last time in the Olympics. This will be the last time we will see the greatest swimmer to have ever touched the water, participating in the greatest sports event of our time. Born with superhuman abilities, he never relied on talent but on training, not counting the laps but making the every lap count. He practiced for many hours a day, every holiday, every birthday and new years. He had mastered three previous Olympics by being named as most successful athlete of the Game. Will he be able to do this for the fourth time?, we will have the answer in few weeks. Whatever the result maybe, billions of people will be watching the greatest athlete world has ever seen, jumping in the pool with his iconic dive for the last time.
With 18 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze in his medal tally, he is a perfect example of mind and body working in perfect synchronization. His extreme dedication and hard work is a motivation for millions of athletes around the world, athletes who are born into no extraordinary facilities but only with a vision, a dream, and a desire to be the best. Though an old saying goes as ”Records are made to be broken” , it is hard to imagine, who will be the maverick to challenge such an impossible records.
Every champion has a hero, but as Michael Phelps put it, for him “It was about becoming the first Michael Phelps, not the second Mark Spitz. “