Olympics 2008 Michael Phelps "I think it really shows that no matter what you set your imagination to, anything can happen if you dream as big as you can dream ," Phelps said. "Anything is possible.
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"I think it really shows that no matter what you set your imagination to, anything can happen if you dream as big as you can dream," Phelps said. "Anything is possible.
BEIJING - Michael Phelps set out before the Beijing Games with the most audacious goal in the history of the modern Olympics, to win eight gold medals at a single Games.
He DID IT! Phelps attains Olympic dream
An Olympian's Gold-Medal Focus
Eight medals. At a Games that started on the 8th of August, at 8 p.m., eight being an auspicious number in Chinese culture.
"It's a lucky number for me now, too," Phelps said Sunday "Seeing 8-8-08 and the opening ceremonies starting at 8 - I guess it was maybe meant to be."
"It's every part of sport," Hansen said of the range that Phelps displayed here. "It's endurance. It's strength. It's pressure ... he made the pressure putt in the U.S. Open, he won the Tour de France and he knocked out the best fighter in the world in the 16th round with an uppercut.
"He did absolutely everything sport is supposed to be and he did it with a smile on his face, and he's a good kid."
Phelps competed with passion.
He paid repeated tribute to his teammates and to his family.
He exhibited sportsmanship and humility.
In all, he swam 17 times.
He won eight gold medals.
He set seven world records.
He won in the relays - three times.
He won individually - five events.
He won by dominating - the 200m freestyle, for instance, by 1.89 seconds.
He won by the closest of margins - .01 of a second in the 100m butterfly on Saturday, over Milorad Cavic of Serbia.
He won when faced with adversity - when, during the 200m butterfly, hisgoggles filled with water and he essentially swam blind, relying on stroke count and experience.
He not only won that race, he set a world record
He elevated himself, his family, his team and his country. He made people around the United States - indeed, around the world - pay attention to his sport and to the way an American not only invites challenge but deals with pressure and expectation.
Eight medals, one more than Mark Spitz won in Munich in 1972. This was, of course, the plan that he and his coach, Bob Bowman, had in mind all along.
Every year, Phelps shares his goals with Bowman. He used to write them on a sheet of paper; now it's done via computer.
"He hands it to me and I read it. He is right on the money about where he ends up, almost always," Bowman said, and always has been ever since they first making these lists - when Phelps was a teenager, said his goal was to swim the 200m fly in 2:04.68 and then, at the junior nationals, swam the 200 fly - in 2:04.68.
"Pretty amazing. I don't know how it comes about but that's part of it."
Phelps is ruthlessly competitive. Poker, spades, swimming -- he wants to win.
Teammate Erik Vendt said, "When it gets to be game time, you can see it in his face: 'I'm Michael Phelps and I'm not going to lose.'
"When push comes to shove, he is going to be there. I have never seen him lose a close race."
"When I'm focused," Phelps said, "there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in my way of doing something. There is not. Never has been.
"If I want something bad enough, then I'm gonna get there. That's just how I always have been. If I don't get there, watch out - because it's going to be even worse and I'm going to have my head on even tighter and you will not get in my way."
And, off his performance this week in Beijing, winningeight gold medals in eight events, the reality is that Phelps, with14 golds in his Olympic career, is now alone in the history books -- he haswon more gold medals than anyone else in Olympic history and more gold medals than anyone else in any single Games.
Four others had been tied with nine golds, including swimmer Mark Spitz, winner of seven at Munich in 1972.
"I think it really shows that no matter what you set your imagination to, anything can happen if you dream as big as you can dream," Phelps said. "Anything is possible.”
Spitz already ceded the title.
“It goes to show you that not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he's maybe the greatest athlete of all time," said the star of the 1972 Munich Games. "He's the greatest racer who ever walked the planet."