Monday, August 18, 2008

My Olympic Crush

No, it's not Michael Phelps

Watching my daughter's enthusiasm over Olympic super-swimmer Michael Phelps, I couldn't help but hark back to my own Olympic crush, circa 1972.

It was Mark Spitz.

As a young teen-ager, I was madly in love with the darkly handsome swimmer who earned seven gold medals in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Never one to moon over pop stars and the like, I was always attracted to athletic guys, and Spitz filled the bill.

Corny as it seems now, I even kept a scrapbook filled with photos and articles about him. Watching him zoom through the waters of the Olympic pools, sleek and muscular, was just as much of a thrill back then as watching the amazing Phelps is now.

So what does Mark Spitz think of Phelps? According to this August 16th article, he couldn't be more admiring and gracious of his successor:

Mark Spitz had one word for the performance that gave Michael Phelps his seventh gold medal of the Beijing Games and equaled his own Olympic record that had stood for 36 years.

"Epic," Spitz said Saturday morning when reached by The Associated Press in Detroit, where his youngest son was playing in a basketball tournament.

Moments earlier, Phelps came from behind to win the 100-meter butterfly, edging Croatia's Milorad Cavic by a hundredth of a second.

"It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he's maybe the greatest athlete of all time," Spitz said. "He's the greatest racer who ever walked the planet."

By the way, I love the features today's Olympics TV viewers enjoy now that we didn't back in the fascinating under-water shots and the helpful graphics.

And when did wetsuits and swimcaps become de rigeur for Olympics swimmers? For a while, it was all shaven heads and tiny Speedos for the guys, really short haircuts and regular one-pieces for the girls.

At any rate, I've been enjoying what I've gotten to see of the summer Olympics, and cheering Team USA all the way!


Smilingsal said...

NBC had them both on the morning after Michael Phelps won his 8th gold medal. Mark Spitz was quite gracious.

I thought he was something back then too. Now... well, that's another story.

Kay Day said...

I liked Eric Heiden - winter olympics 1980. He was a speed-skater and won all kinds of metals and broke records. Of course that was the same year that USA hockey beat USSR. That was probably the best olympics ever. Maybe because I was more interested in it than I have been before or since.

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