Sports Outside the Beltway

Phelps: 8 Golds and 8 World Records?

Alice Park believes that Michael Phelps might have a bigger ambition than topping Mark Spitz’ longstanding record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics.

Gold medallist Michael Phelps, right, of the United States celebrates with South Korea\'s silver medallist Park Tae-hwan after the men\'s 200m freestyle swimming final on August 12 Jason Reed / ReutersPhelps collected his third win in the Water Cube in the 200m freestyle on Aug. 12 — and his third world record. “Being in lane six, I was out of the middle of the pool. I knew that if I jumped first, the guys in the middle of the pool wouldn’t be able to see me, and by the time they did, hopefully I had enough ground where I could hold them off,” he said of his record-breaking win.

Could he and Bowman have set an astoundingly high bar of not only winning eight gold medals, but of earning eight new world records in the process? With any other swimmer, the very thought would be ridiculous. But with Phelps …

Of course, Phelps won’t admit to it. But if you’re as gifted as he is in the water, and you shrug off world records as easily as a coat, no mere clocks will keep you feeling challenged — you need something to motivate you. Setting eight new marks in a single meet might do it — Phelps has already broken five world records in a meet at last year’s World championships.

He could do it, certainly.  This pool seems to be exceptionally fast and Phelps is the best swimmer in history.  Still, one would hate to win eight gold medals — or even six — and come away from the Games disappointed in one’s performance.


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