"My goal is one Olympic gold medal. Not many people in this world can say, 'I'm an Olympic gold medalist.'" Michael Phelps
I feel bad for Michael Phelps.
I mean I'm not losing sleep over it, or anything. There are definitely people in this world I am more worried about.
But, at the same time, I do feel bad for him. I've felt this way most of the summer, as the United States has prepared for Beijing. However, last night, it reached an all-time high.
As I was watching the women's volleyball, I noticed a smiling face pop up in the corner of my TV. Below Phelps' grin, it read, "Countdown to Phelps: 30 minutes".
A bit later, NBC switched to men's gymnastics. Although the U.S. men's team was doing exceptionally well, exceeding all expectations, the focus was elsewhere. Again, the corner of the TV told me: "Countdown to Phelps: 9 minutes".
It seems that no matter what, the nation's focus is on one thing: Phelps winning eight gold medals. Even the standard competition schedule for swimming was changed to the morning, just so Phelps would be on prime time. And although he has never mentioned the idea of winning eight golds, the idea seems to have stuck (to say the least).
The reason I feel so bad for him, though, is that the whole world is watching, waiting to see if he'll win eight golds. If he only wins seven, does that mean he's a failure?
Most medal winners would kill for seven golds.
Most Olympians would kill for one gold- or even a silver or bronze.
Most athletes would kill to go to the Olympics...
...and yet, if Phelps doesn't win eight golds, he's failed us. If he wins seven golds and one silver, he didn't accomplish his(/our) goal. Even if he breaks his own personal record when winning the silver, he doesn't get the million dollar bonus Speedo has promised him.
Granted, he'd still receive $190,000 in bonuses for seven golds and one silver, but that seems like pocket change compared to a mill (he couldn't even take a trip to the moon with that amount of money. Please.)
I realize that the fame, endorsements and excitement surrounding what he is doing is probably well worth the pressure of winning eight golds, especially for someone so capable of doing so. I just want Michael to know that even if he only ends up winning the golds he currently has, I'd still be impressed. I'd love to tell him this myself, but he's been hard to reach lately. He must be busy.