Best Ever? You Bet It Was


This is a Miami Dolphins site and rarely does an event come along that gets my mind off football and onto something else, there is “The Dark Knight” phenomenon that I still won’t see for another week, there is, well, not much else.  Every 4 years though, that little international competition that gets very little press comes along and I find myself glued to the TV like a child watching Spongebob SquarepantsThe Olympics.  Me loves me some Olympics.

Last night, I stayed up a little late and tuned in to watch Michael Phelps get his first gold medal in his attempt at a history making 8.  It was a fun race.  Then i decided to stay up and watch the mens relay.  The 4×4 100M relay.  Earlier the French reportedly were running off with their mouths saying they would “smash” the American team, and for good reason, the mens relay team had become also-rans in the event in the last 2 Olympics and the French held the world record holder as their anchor, Alain Bernard.  It was going to be interesting to see if three American swimmers could step up and pull it out for Phelps.  What transpired was without question, the most exciting Olympic moment I have ever witnessed.  Was it the best ever?  You bet it was!

For starters, 5 nations finished ahead of the World Record Time with the victor coming in 4 seconds faster than the previous mark.  Let me repeat that…FOUR SECONDS FASTER.  That alone would make the race something to talk about for decades, instead, it’s the footnote.

Michael Phelps entered the water first in the leg of 4, he had only an hour and 9 minutes earlier finished first in his group of swimmers in the trials for another event.  He started off slow giving the Australians the 50m split on leg 1.  In fact, Australian Eamon Sullivan finished the first 50 meters by breaking the World Record time of France’s Bernard.  Phelps would pull slightly ahead by the 100M mark allowing Garrett Weber-Gale to take the lead in the second leg. 

Weber-Gale would finish his leg of the 4×4 with a slim lead over the French and Australians.  Into the water would go Cullen Jones.  Jones would lose ground by the end of the first 50 meters and by the turn, the Frenchmen were pulling ahead.  Jone would hit the 100m mark 6 tenths of a second a behind the French.  Bernard took off like a rocket off the wall and American Jason Lezak would hit the water in the lane next to him with a huge mountain to climb.  The Americans were swimming for Silver.

At the turn of 50 meters and heading down the final 35m to Gold, Bernard from France was a lock.  His stroke was easy and he was leading with only a mere 3/4 to go down the final 50.  Then, Lezak began to pull closer.  Lezak’s arms were inching closer to Bernard’s head.  Then as the announcers made comment that Lezak was gaining on the world record holder, the last 20 to 25 meters became a frenzied wave of adrenaline.

Lezak inched closer and closer and by the time the two men reached the 10 to 15 meter mark, Lezak was neck and neck with very heavily favored French.  What happened next truly makes the hair stand up on my neck as I write this.  Lezak pulled ahead.  The announcers went crazy, the crowd was screaming so loud you would have thought this was the United States.  Then, their hands touched the wall.  The board showed the impossible.  Lezak made up the difference and the US had won the impossible relay.  They won Gold.

On the poolside, Michael Phelps was screaming, Weber-Gale, and Jones were pumping their fists in the air and in the pool Lezak was frantically trying to get out to hug his teammates.  In the lane next to them, Alain Bernard had his head down against the pool side, his Frenchman brothers astoundingly shocked beyond words.

I have been fortunate to have been able to watch every Olympics since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.  I don’t get to see every event and there have been some astonishing world records, some great competition, and some unknowns from around the world that you can’t help but cheer for.  I watched a young girl named Mary-Lou Retton vault to 2 perfect 10’s to give the US an upset Gold Medal in Gymnastics.  I watch Apolo Anton Ohno race for gold in speed skating.  I have seen the upside of victory and the dejection in defeat.

The Olympics swimming competition may very well end up being the greatest medaled event in history should Michael Phelps win all of his 8 events.  His name would go down in the books along with Mark Spitz and many many others.  Last night however, Jason Lezak, the anchor of the mens 4×4 team pulled out the biggest race of his life.  From deep within he found that extra push that so often we hear everyone has, but seldom see.

I have never seen anything so awe-inspiring as the event I watched last night, so much so that to me, it deserves to be on a simple Miami Dolphins fan site.  Yes, it was that good.  It was, the best ever.