Michael Phelps made Olympic history Thursday, winning the 200-meter individual relay. It was his 22nd gold medal and the 13th individual triumph of his career, thus breaking a record that had stood for more than 2,000 years.
“(It’s) the most amazing accomplishment in the history of sports,” Bleacher Report writer and author Lars Anderson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “You can go all the way back to when they first held the Games in Athens.”
Indeed, Phelps’ 13th individual gold surpasses that of running great Leonidas of Rhodes, the greatest athlete in ancient Greece.
“By the way, I now think after being in Rio for two weeks that all of the Summer Games going forward should just be held in Athens,” Anderson said. “We should just have one place for the Summer Olympics and one place for the Winter Olympics. Because doing this stuff where communities invest so much money in these games, like Rio – once everybody leaves Rio, there’s going to be so many places here that are not going to know what to do with these venues. I’m not the first to suggest this, but I do think it should be on a rotating thing, and I believe everything should be in Athens.”
Anderson did say, however, that Rio has “certainly exceeded” his expectations.
“I’ve always felt safe and the Zika virus has been completely overblown because it is winter down here in Rio,” he said. “I’m based in Birmingham, Alabama, and the first time I saw a mosquito, it was like seeing a copperhead in Alabama. Everybody just scattered and ran to the fences. I will say this: I don’t think this has been really reported at all. I spent 20 years at Sports Illustrated and I hope I’m not breaching any confidence here, but at the Opening Ceremonies, my buddies at Sports Illustrated had a camera mounted on the very top of the stadium, and in the middle of the ceremonies – or at some point during the Opening Ceremonies – that camera was stolen. It was just detached and taken away. I wrote about how I believed the Opening Ceremony was the most secure event in the history of world sports because there was 30,000 military and police officers and there was over 1,000 American special agents here to protect the American athletes. The fact that a camera was stolen from the very, very top – that is very troubling. I’m not sure what’s making hay in the United States, but a media bus was shot up the other day by who knows what. I’ve always felt extremely safe down here in Rio, but I think you can never let your guard down (with) something like (this).”
In other Olympic news, Simone Biles won gold in the all-around competition, while Aly Raisman took silver. This came on the heels of the U.S. winning team gold – by about a mile.
Why is U.S. women gymnastics so dominant?
“It goes back to Marta Karolyi,” Anderson said of the longtime coach. “What she has done, she has a ranch down in Texas where she invited every month the top female gymnasts of all age groups down to train with her. This is a departure from the way it used to be in the United States. It used to be that everybody would have to go to one place at one time. Now all the young female gymnasts are able to stay in their hometown, stay around their mom and dad, their friends, and instead of being shipped away – kind of like Siberia – they’re able to stay in the bosom of their friends and family and only go down to train with the national team down in Texas once a month or once every two months. Simone is a part of that, and also Marta Karolyi, she is really good at spotting young talent. She can go to a gym and look at this 9-year-old and see, ‘Oh, this girl’s got it.’ You and I could never do that, but she’s able to do that and get her into her system. Her system is so soft and sort of accommodating to the mom and dad and also allowing for a personal coach, which is really important. That’s why you don’t see burnout among these young gymnasts, and that’s awesome. This is why the Americans are so much better than the rest of the world.”