Sunday, 17 August 2008
The Greatest Olympian Of Our Time
What makes Michael Fred Phelps the greatest Olympian in history?
Born in Baltimore in the US state of Maryland, Phelps – known as the Baltimore Bullet -- suffered Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as a teenager and trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club under coach Bob Bowman, who was later an assistant coach to the US swimming team at Athens 2004.
He was a talented junior swimmer who became the youngest-ever US swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games when he represented his country at the age of 15 at the Sydney 2000 Games in the Men's 200 meters Butterfly. A few months later, at 15 years and nine months, he became the youngest man to set a swimming world record, again in the 200 meters Butterfly.
His first World Championship gold medal came in 2001, but the big breakthrough year was 2003, when Phelps won four gold medals and two silver at the World Championships in Barcelona.
At Athens 2004, Phelps extended that to six gold medals and two bronze (swimwear manufacturers Speedo offered Phelps one million dollars if he won all eight medals – an offer which has stayed on the table for Beijing 2008).
Indeed a succession of lucrative sponsorship deals meant Phelps could no longer train as an amateur, so when Bowman moved to coach at the University of Michigan in 2004, Phelps followed too and trained at a local swimming club in Ann Arbor called Club Wolverine.
Phelps has vowed not to work under any other coach than Bowman. "I don't think I would be where I am today with any other coach. He's always on top of things. We've been through a lot."
He maintained his grip as the world's No. 1 swimmer by winning four gold and two silver at the 2005 World Championships and then six gold medals at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.
The bad news for Phelps's rivals is that he hasn't lost his thirst for more titles even holding the record of 8 Olympic gold medals won in a game.
"This is something we've been preparing for over the past four years. The hard work is paying off and it's starting to show."
The Phelps Fact File
Full name: Michael Fred Phelps
Date of birth: June 30, 1985
Place of birth: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Strokes: Butterfly, Individual Medley, Freestyle, Backstroke
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight: 195 pounds (88 kg)