A memory for Michael Phelps when the Omaha, Nebraska Trial begins this Sunday. Some lines for that teenager and man who achieved immortality in a very human way by showing steely will to fight in the pools, beat, blow after blow, 36 world records, 28 singles and extract, dive after dive, 28 Olympic metals, 23 of gold, in spectacular and unfading actions. In his dazzling wake: first man to break the 50 ”wall in the 100m butterfly style (49” 82); his 1/100 ”win over Serbian Milorad Čavić; the unexpected and resounding defeat he suffered against the South African Chad le Clos; his fiery matches with magyar László Cseh and American Ryan Lochte in the medley.
Seven years ago, in 2014, that blinding waterspout faltered. It was overflowing with energy. Freed from the harshness of the weekly 80 km swimming practices, a great majority in the hydrodynamic butterfly style, and to know life and social behavior far from sport, distanced from the rigors of asceticism that the Olympic swimming champion lives, he darkened his mind with alcohol, toyed with suicide, and came to sleep in a fetal position, like a vulnerable being too human and fragile in the face of life. His mental strength overcame his destructive desires and now Michael Phelps, after rectifying, lives his life. It will probably be in the stands in Omaha.
All of his individual records have already disappeared, with the exception of 4.03.84 in the combined 400m he left in Beijing. Eight golds at the Beijing Olympics! Born on June 30, 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland, he measured 1.95 m, 88 kilograms in weight, and a width of arms of 2.04 m, more than his height. And his feet, two flippers the size of a sports magazine.
There are men faster than him in the 100 and 200 m butterfly strokes in which he reigned for almost two decades: Caeleb Dressel, USA (49.50), and the Hungarian Kristóf Milák (1: 50.73). Dressel is one of the stars that will compete in the Omaha Trial; 24 years old, 1.91 m and 86 kg, he was entered in 50, 100 and 200 m free swim; in 100 and 200 butterfly and 200 m individual medley. Katie Ledecky has in her sights in Tokyo, the record for the most medals held by the Soviet Larisa Latýnina. The sprinter Simone Manuel, of black race, in 50, 100 and 200 freestyle.
In a few more years, counted on the fingers, the image of Phelps will gradually fade and will hardly be preserved in the new generations, like that of so many other Olympic sports glories: Johnny Weissmüller, Murray Rose, Don Schollander, Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe. Only the echo of his name will vibrate in time and space with the force and frequency of the baker Corebo de Elide, the first Olympic champion in historical chronology.
Columnist: Arturo Xicoténcatl Cover Image:Main Image:Send to NewsML Feed: 0