"People always thought it [was] Michael's pure talent, but it wasn't," said CBC Sports swim analyst Bryon MacDonald. "He has talent, there's no question, but he also trains harder than anyone else in the world. And he hasn't been lately.How many times have we heard him say a variation of the above?
"He gained his belief in himself off of his training, and so he lost a little bit of that belief."
Phelps, who is coming off a month of intense training in Colorado Springs, Colo., agrees the key is how he prepares for competitions.
"I wasn't really that good," Phelps told MacDonald in Montreal last week of his two losses to the Chinese swimmer. "I think it's frustrating but I think that it's something that will help me in the long run. And I think I needed that one to use as motivation. It's something that I would like to keep for the next two years. But it's going to make me work that much harder to get back."
So, has the world caught up? I think they met him two-thirds of the way and Michael Phelps has demonstrably capitulated the last third.
I predicted that we wouldn't see Phelps next week at the 2011 Fina World Championships nor would he swim in the London Olympics in 2012. When I made these predictions Phelps was playing golf, failing to show up for workouts, having hostile back-and-forth exchanges with his coach, logging sub-standard times at places like: France, Pan Pacs, and the races USA Swimming calls a "Grand Prix." His performances as of late have not been inspiring, just adequate. That is a weird contrast when you compare his 7-world records at the 2007 FINA World Championships.
If Michael Phelps leaves this sport in 2013 I suspect USA Swimming will lose half it's potential medal count at the Brazil games in 2016. America will no longer be a swimming "super-power" which in a sad way reflects what is happening to the US economically as well.
Take a look at the photos above. That is a before-and-after photo of the Shanghai Skyline. China has "150-Shanghais" cities built with the $500-billion dollars a year the USA sinks into their economy via Wallmart, Target, Costco, etc. etc. etc. We are the only westernized economy to sacrifice our industrial base to China. In exchange for such kindness they finance our national debt.
So, not only has the world caught up to Michael Phelps, the world has caught up to the US as well and we too have seemingly capitulated the last third if not more than that. Other sports and industries will follow.
"... But it wasn't until Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms; [read as capitalism - Tony], that the city exploded. Only fifteen years later, it became the largest cargo port in the world. Twenty years later, it's the megalopolis you are seeing in this photo. ..."
Take a look at your skyline, has it grown as exponentially as Shanghai's? Has China's swimming and diving programs grown exponentially along with Shanghai's? Is the ability of USA Swimming to maintain that "super-power" status degrading in the exact proportion to our economy and national psyche? I think so and I think Michael Phelps is an analogy to that lack of growth.