Sportsman's Daily


U.S. Olympians Resent “Opportunity Imbalance” in Talking of Phelps’ Eight Golds

Some debate whether asterisk should be attached to Phelps’ achievement

Michael Phelps

Trying to stem a backlash among fellow Olympians resentful of his "embarrassment of medal opportunities," Phelps keeps his seven other golds hidden in suitcase.

BEIJING (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) — With his eight gold medals, Michael Phelps has dominated these games like no athlete has before, his monumental achievement inspiring awe even among his fellow Olympians.

But less than 24 hours after shattering the record held for 36 years by Mark Spitz, a number of disaffected US athletes have quietly pointed to what one called “the opportunity imbalance” – as the overwhelming majority of Olympians are limited to a single event, and can thus only compete for a solitary gold.

“I don’t want to take anything away from what Phelps did, but most of us don’t get the opportunities he had,” said a US sprinter who competes in the women’s 200 meter dash and 4x100 relay. “Actually, I’m luckier than most – I get to compete in two events. But still, the only way I’m going home with eight golds is if I’m knocking Phelps out and grabbing six of his.”

Most of the athletes who spoke off the record feel their achievements have been “minimized, dwarfed, reduced to meaninglessness” by Phelps’ “tacky gold grab,” as a U.S. hammer thrower described it.

“I can hurl the damn thing out of the stadium and put it into orbit and the best I can do is come away with a single gold,” said the hammer thrower. “But unless you’re Bob Vila, no one cares about a guy with a hammer, particularly if you’re competing for just one gold. I just wish the IOC opened their eyes…there’s more you can do with a hammer than just throwing it for distance. What about the ability to strike an object from 200 meters? Or, better yet, the number of times you can strike a nail with a 16 pound hammer without hitting your finger?”

While LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were spotted at two of Phelps’ events, and claimed to be “in awe” of his achievement, several in LeBron’s traveling party said that he was frustrated at being limited to a single gold.

“LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, these guys have sacrificed a lot – it’s easy to forget that this is their summer vacation," said DeShawn Green, an associate traveling with LeBron. " But they come to Beijing and suddenly one gold ain’t all that. What message will that send the next time around when you’re asking NBA players to sacrifice to play on the US team? What they should do is maybe add a skills competition and make it worth the trip. You know, slam dunk, dribbling and passing, and maybe throw a bone to the Europeans and include a flopping competition based on element of difficulty like in diving. In fact, I say do it from the high board where you’re gonna really have to think twice before taking a dive – maybe it will make them motherfuckers finally cut that shit out. I’m talking about you Ginobili.”

Even Mark Spitz sympathizes.

“I see their point," said Spitz. "Most Olympians only have a chance at one gold, which is a remarkable achievement in and of itself. I can understand how some might resent eight golds. In fact, I know just how they feel.”

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