Monday, August 11, 2008

A race for the history books

This is why I watch the Olympics.

The competition. Coming from behind to do the improbable. The reaction. And doing it for your country. Of course, staying in the hunt to capture 8 individual gold medals is a perk as well for Michael Phelps.

The men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay last night? Incredible. A race that may go down in history as one of the best Olympic races ever.

The U.S. wasn't supposed to win. The trash talking French were, the men who said they were going to "smash" the Americans, were the heavy favorites. But this group of four American swimmers - Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak - pulled together to win it and leave the French speechless.

It was Lezak who left Phelps and Co. screaming though. Trailing the trash-talking Alain Bernard at the turn with 50 meters remaining, Lezak got a spark of energy. Over the last meters, he pulled ahead. Out touching him at the wall by .08 seconds and helping the U.S. shatter the world record by nearly 4 seconds.

The U.S. swimmers went wild. Their French competitors went silent.

I admit, I wasn't screaming at the television (that would have been a bit weird to me), but I was sitting at the edge of my recliner, urging Lezak on from half a world away. And when the results flashed cross the screen, I was proud. This was a group of 4 guys who banded together, a reclaimed a title that has eluded the Americans for the last two Olympics. And they weren't expected to win this one either. But they did it.

As Phelps said, "We let our swimming do the talking."

And it was exciting. This is the kind of stuff the Olympics are made of.

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