Another set of the Olympic Games have come and gone. I very much enjoyed watching the London events even if I didn’t catch as much as I wanted to. The neat thing about the Olympics is how we’re all on the same team. Your entire country is rooting for your team, it’s not just your city. It’s amazing how these games bring us together as fans.
Back in the Beijing Olympics, our hometown hero, Michael Phelps (Baltimore represent), was poised to make history. Mark Spitz owned a 36-year-old record with seven gold medals captured in a single Olympic Games. It was common knowledge Phelps went to Beijing with one goal, to sweep his events with gold medals.
On August 17, 2008 the Baltimore Ravens hosted a home preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. As far as preseason games go, crowds tend to thin out almost completely after half time. Not that night, the Ravens organization planned to simulcast Michael Phelps’ final event, the 4x100-meter medley relay, on the jumbotron at the conclusion of the game.
Thousands endured a heated battle between Tarvaris Jackson and Kyle Boller. It turned out to be worth it. Watching Michael Phelps win his eighth medal with thousands of cheering fans is something I’ll never forgot. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I tried my best to capture the sentiment in the accompanied video. There are many skills I can list on my resume, cinematographer is not one of them.
And I’m back to tear it up
Haters, start your engines
I hear ‘em gearin’ up
People talk so much shit about me at barbershops
They forget to get their haircut
— Kanye West, Everything I Am
All this talk about how he isn’t the same Michael Phelps we saw in Beijing. They’re right, this isn’t the same swimmer. But you’d be crazy to expect a 2008 repeat of eight gold medals or a 2004 haul of six gold and two bronze.
Michael Phelps is four years older and by all accounts less medal hungry. Yet Phelps just anchored a gold-medal relay to capture his Olympic-record 19th medal. The reports of Phelps’ death are greatly exaggerated.
When I went to the [1972 Munich] Olympics, a Russian coach asked me if my mustache slowed me down. I said, “No, as a matter of fact, it deflects water away from my mouth, allows my rear end to rise and make me bullet-shaped in the water. That’s what allowed me to swim so great.” He’s translating as fast as he can for the other coaches. The following year every Russian male swimmer had a mustache.
— Mark “The Shark” Spitz, winner of 7 gold medals in Munich
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report