For the first time since he was 15 years old swimming in his first
Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, Michael Phelps entered an Olympic race
and didn't come away from it with a medal. He finished fourth in the
400-meter individual medley Saturday night - a stunning fourth. Let's
consider that for a moment: Phelps, at 27, still seemingly in the prime
of his career, finishing fourth in a race that once was his signature
What a stunning turn of events this was, and in the first
swimming race of the 2012 Olympics. There was Phelps, perhaps the
greatest Olympian ever, pulling himself out of the pool badly beaten and
sounding despondent afterward.
"It was just a crappy race," he
said. "It's frustrating for sure ... just really frustrating to start off
on a bad note like this. (My competitors) just swam a better race than
me, swam a smarter race than me and were more prepared. That's why
they're on the medal stand."
For the first time since he has been
in the public eye, Phelps did not appear as the swimming god we have
known him to be but as a vanquished veteran swimmer who looked sluggish
and lackluster almost from the moment he left the starting block.