Thursday, 21 August 2008

Phelps vs Bolt

On a lighter note than some previous posts, I thought I'd weigh into the Phelps vs. Bolt debate. I've loved the Olympics and I'm really delighted that I forget to take enough holiday earlier in the end of the year (leaving a brilliant Olympics-fuelled holiday!)

It's quite amazing to think that this might be the best performance by a sports team in my own lifetime (I think we've exceeded even the Rugby World Cup win of 2003). There have been loads of highlights: Christine Ohuruogu, of course; Victoria Pendleton's final of the team sprint; Becky Adlington coming from nowhere in the swimming - loads of great individual and team performances (the less said about Andy Murray the better... the sooner that football and tennis get kicked out of the Olympics the better: Olympic gold should be a sporting pinnacle and never will be in those sports).

Elsewhere Bolt and Phelps dominate the headlines. Rightly so, as both have been awesome to watch. I'd never really got into watching swimming before these Olympics, whilst track and field athletics has been a long-term passion. But in the recent debate about Bolt vs. Phelps, I'm coming on the side of Phelps as the greatest Olympian of 2008.

It's not the medals. It's obviously easier to win swimming medals than in some other sports. (The fact that Phelps could even enter eight events shows the difference here. Even Carl Lewis only entered five events at his best - and most athletes could never hope to enter more than two). It's also easier to break swimming world records than in athletics so that's not a fair comparison either.

Instead, the main reason I'm going for Phelps is that he has demonstrated over a whole period of time that he can't be touched in his sport. Bolt first came onto the athletics radar when he was 15 years old: I can remember reading news reports excitedly describing his future potential then. But 2008 has really been his breakthrough year. He's been untouchable only in recent months. Meanwhile, Phelps has demonstrated his superiority over years and years. If Bolt is still the man to beat in 2012, then perhaps he can be put into the same category as Phelps. But in my opinion, not until then.


Sreeram Penna said...

I completely disagree Phleps is no match to Usain bolt. Usain Bolt only participated in 3 events and broke three world records. No one in the world is in a position to challenge Usian Bolt. He is the Legend

Anonymous said...

its easier to break swimming records? its easier to enter more events?

lol please go educate yourself on the sport. you are very very very ignorant.

this the first time records have fallen like they have...and that is soley due to the new swim suit.

and if it were so easy you would see many other swimmers in so many events..oh wait. you dont. they are in 1 or 2 typically sometimes 3 or 4. thats what makes phelps so amazing(among other things). im blown away by all the stupidity...oh wait maybe not. they watch it for the first time in their lives and they think they are experts. lol

dave bish said...

I guess sport's a bit divisive then!

I dunno if you can compare... both did amazingly. I do think there is something in a sportsperson being able to sustain their performance so 2012 (and 2004) should factor somewhere along the line.

Anonymous said...

it is easier to break world records as you can change the depth of the pool, make lanes wider to decrease times. You can't do that in track and field. And yes, it is easier to enter more events, you can only "run" on track, but is there races where you can run backwards, with limiting arm and leg motion? People give race walking slack, but when is butterfly ever going to be used? if chased by a shark would you use butterfly?

'go educate yourself'.

peterdray said...

Thanks all. I agree that both were amazing. It's true that track and field is my sport ahead of swimming, but I'm still convinced that it's proportionately easier to win medals in athletics ahead of track and field. Bolt is completely dominant. If he keeps at the sort of level he is at the Olympics, he has to be considered the greatest of the two. As yet, he's unproven.

samg said...

When I saw ben johnson run the 100m in 9,79 secs or smething, i was wondering is he for real? It was the most eerie sensation in my whole life to watch a man run so fast. Till all the steroids bit took over but i was still amazed.
And then came Usain Bolt and i thought wow! I just saw something which made me rethink about life, theres still more to achieve, impossible is nothing. I never had this feeling watching Phelps. So there.