Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, An Appreciation

Usain Bolt after winning the 100m Final. Probably the best picture of the Olympic Games.

After watching pure dominance once again this past weekend, the same thing we experience 4 years ago watching the Beijing Olympics, I have to wonder, is this generation producing the best athletes of all time?

Obviously with sports nutrition on the rise and medical technology on the rise, it’s only right that it would be. But how do you explain what Bolt and Phelps did in their respective sports.

Usain Bolt, after wowing everyone at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, put on another show last night in London. In probably his first meaningful race in 4 years, he showed up all the doubters and cruised to gold in the 100m final, becoming only the 2nd athlete ever to repeat in the event.

What I find to be the most impressive is the way he completed the feat. Since blowing away the competition in the 100m final in Beijing, Bolt has been through his ups and downs, including some lapses at the World Championships where he was upstaged by his countryman last year. But let’s remember one thing, he set the WORLD RECORD at the Olympics and didn’t even run the whole race, and then topped that record a year later at the World Championships in 2009. So what else does he have to prove? Just that he is number 1.

Bolt might be the first athlete I have ever seen to have the “On and Off” switch in his arsenal. He has the uncanny ability to turn it on in situations when he feels like it, and at other times can just coast by. Just look at last night’s race, he had lost to his countryman at the Jamaican Olympic trials a few months before. So what does he do? Comes out and  sets an Olympic record and becomes a back-to-back 100m Champion in the Olympics.

Next up for the Jamaican is the 200m. Another race he set the world record in at the Beijing Olympics. Once again same story as the 100m. There have been issues with his commitment, but hearing Bolt speak last night after winning the 100m, he seems like he is in the zone and ready to dominate.

Also, in another way to keep things interesting, Bolt decided to stop an interview to acknowledge the US national anthem, which Sanya Richards-Ross had just won. Dude is a class act for sure.

Over to Michael Phelps, who now has become the most decorated Olympian ever. Phelps the last 4 years has similarly gone through his peaks and valleys in the aftermath of having the single most dominating performance in a single Olympic games.

The thing about Phelps that has impressed me the most, is Phelps literally had not much more to swim for. Yes, he wanted to defend his Olympic titles and show everyone he was the greatest, but he wanted to prove to everyone that the drive was still there and that he was the best American swimmer. EVER.

Despite having Ryan Lochte, coming up in his shadow and sometimes even showing he was vulnerable, Phelps still managed to impress. He managed to earn 6 medals this Olympics, 4 golds and 2 silvers. Through all the controversy and all the hype surrounding Phelps and the expectations, Phelps was still able to impress. Becoming the first 3-time winner in the same event by winning the 200 individual medley at this Olympics. Which many people should realize, is probably the single most impressive feat he has accomplished in his career. Yes, this is the same man who won 18 Gold Medals (22 Overall) spanning over 3 Olympic games, but being able to come back 8 years after winning your first gold in the same event, is a pretty impressive feat, something we may never see again in the future.

Despite his dust-ups in the media, and the many who thought he just wasn’t motivated enough, especially when he didn’t medal in his first race. But Phelps still was able to turn it on, and medaled in his final six races, including golds to end his illustrious career.

So what’s next, who is gonna be the next in line? Not sure we will see 2 other athletes like them. Both confident and dominant, but also 2 different breeds. Bolt has his swagger and signature pose, while Phelps plays off the all-american image (Phelps is the Subway poster boy). I love the Summer Olympics, where some of the best personalities and talents come out, just unfortunate they only come around every 4 years.

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