By the end of the swimming competition at the Beijing Olympics Michael Phelps had achieved his remarkable feat – eight gold medals in the pool. Amazingly, he had been involved in seven word records and one Olympic record.
For the early part of the Beijing Olympics therefore the world knew of one outstanding performer, Michael Phelps. He became the star athlete. He was the man of the moment, one day after another, attracting record crowds to the aesthetically beautiful water cube, an architectural marvel that was the swimming arena.
No one can detract from the superb achievements of Michael Phelps. He achieved greatness in the swimming world and certainly in the International Olympic Movement. He gave the Beijing Olympics the start it deserved to the extent that all of the negatives projected around the globe largely by the western media faded into the background.
With the swimming competition completed, some suggested that it was time for the ‘real Olympics’ to begin – athletics.
Traditionally, the main attraction of the athletics at any edition of the Olympic Games is undoubtedly the 100m for men. It is the event that allows one individual to run away with the title of ‘The World’s Fastest Man’. This has often been seen as discriminatory since the women also have a 100m event and no one ever refers to the winner as ‘The World’s Fastest Woman’.
For the past several years Jamaica’s Asafa Powell has been the world record holder of the 100m event. The world record was taken to new lows by Powell running for his MVP Club, based in Jamaica with Stephen Francis as the founder and head coach. Powell lowered the record to 9.77 then on to 9.76 and later to 9.74 seconds. It was a remarkable feat each time and the world gave him his due respect as its leading sprinter.