Phelps Comes Back With A Bang, A Roundup Of Performance At Worlds
Michael Phelps made a giant leap for himself at the World Swimming Championships in Rome, unbattered by months of controversy and media infiltration heading into the Worlds.
Michael Phelps had a long and tedious comeback from his historic summer Olympics in Beijing where he won record eight gold medals. At the 2009 World Aquatics Championships in Rome, Italy, July 26-August 2, Phelps had a point to prove.
Ever since the Beijing Olympics, media has been myopic on Phelps’s life.
First, he was criticized for taking too much time off after the 2008 Olympics. Many believed Phelps would have serious trouble getting back into shape and the competition mode.
In February of this year, a photo showing Phelps inhaling from a marijuana pipe has made headlines around the world, leading Phelps to make a public apology to his fans. He was suspended for three months for this misconduct by USA swimming.
Finally, Phelps’s coach Bob Bowman has lashed out at FINA, the governing body of the aquatics championships, saying the organization should have banned the high-performance polyurethane suits that diminish the value of world records. His comments followed Phelps’s loss to a little known swimmer from Germany in the 200 m freestyle finals on July 28 at the Worlds. The loss was the first major one for Phelps since 2005.
In the end, Phelps did what he does best – staying unfazed by all negative talk about him. He came back with a bang, winning five gold medals and one silver.
Silver – 200 m freestyle
Gold – 100 m butterfly, 200 m butterfly, 4x100 m freestyle relay, 4x200 m freestyle relay, and 4x100 m medley relay
Dramatic Race With Cavic
“Electric” seems to be the only way to describe the atmosphere at the Foro Italico arena minutes before the 100 meter butterfly final began on Saturday, August 1. This race was undoubtedly the most anticipated one. The swim became a repeat of the face-off between Phelps and Milorad Cavic in Beijing in 2008, when Phelps beat Cavic by a few one-hundredths of a second. Heading into Saturday’s finals, quite a bit of controversy was starting to surround the upcoming swim. At the center of the controversy – Milorad Cavic who days earlier scoffed at Phelps’s unwillingness to upgrade to a better swimming suit and even went as far as offering to buy Phelps a better suit that he himself uses. He also claimed that his loss to Phelps in the 100 meter butterfly finals in Beijing was merely the result of the inefficiency of the time recording system.
Cavic’s trash talk before the race made the swim on Saturday intensely charged. Phelps and Cavic were set to swim side by side in lanes 4 and 5 respectively. As they were getting ready, they turned to stare each other in the eye, and it felt as if sparks would start flying out from behind their swimming goggles. Off the block, Phelps had a superb reaction time, but Cavic managed to lead before the first 50 meters were over. Than, it seemed Phelps darted to the finish line in the last 20 meters, while Cavic started to make too many pointless moves, which lead him to lose the precious one-hundredths of a second at the finish. Phelps came out with a victory and set a new world record. Victoriously pounding on water after the swim, he sure looked like he knew that he had managed to convince the entire world that he could come back from any insults, lack of training and drug scandals that have troubled him ever since his record-setting Beijing Olympics in 2008. For the record, Phelps won wearing his old swimming suit. Cavic looked noticeably down – a very cold tap on the shoulder was the only act of respect for each other that the two of them could squeeze out on that historic night. Should both Phelps and Cavic stick around until the 2012 summer Games in London, the suspense that these two swimmers create when they face each other will no doubt keep the swimming fans glued to their television sets. Cavic has even offered a 1-on-1 duel with Phelps before they are scheduled to meet officially in 2011. FINA plans to ban the new high-performance suits by early next year.