Phelps and Destiny
If there was any doubt that Michael Phelps would fulfill his Olympic destiny, it was dispelled by his margin of victory in the 100-meter butterfly. One one-hundredth of a second. Try to divide the blink of an eye into one hundred parts and then try to visualize one part. Impossible, you say? Precisely. Nine times out of ten, Serbian Milorad Cavic would probably have beaten Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly but this particular Olympics was meant to be the venue for that one time out of ten. Destiny.
It is strange how destiny can be different for two great swimmers. 41-year-old Dana Torres lost her 50-meter swim by one one-hundredth of a second. And she and her team missed out on the gold in the 4x100m medley relay by the slimmest of margins. It could have happened to Phelps but it did not. Destiny.
Phelps has won eight gold medals, surpassing Spitz's record of 7 in the '72 Munich Olympics. Phelps stands alone, breaking a record many thought could never be touched. What about Phelps's? It seems impossible but maybe 36 years from now in the 2044 Olympics ... Well, perhaps another generation will marvel at how the unreachable was reached and surpassed by a new Phelps.
If Phelps competes in the London Olympics in 2012, as he is expected to, he should break Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina's haul of 18 medals (9G, 5S, 4B) from three Olympics ('56, '60, '64). He has 16 (14G, 2B) from Athens and Beijing (2004, 2008). But that is a story for another day. At this moment, let us simply recognize that from now onwards and in any language, "Phelpsian feat" will mean the epitome of superhuman excellence.