As great as Michael Phelps is, his achievements will not be the ones that I remember most vividly from this olympics but rather it will be those last thirty-five meters swam by Jason Lezak in the 4x100 m freestyle relay that will go down in my memory along with the 2007 fiesta bowl and the 2004 ALCS as one of the most thrilling sports moments in my life. He may have very well swam the greatest finish in swimming history, chasing down the great Alain Bernard to smash two records and win a gold medal.
Fake fireworks and singers, and the fake minorities in the opening ceremonies, random violence, blatant rules violations, and a war, have all marred this olympics. Suspicious judging, underachieving Americans, and NBC's idiotic "live" delay out here on the west coast could have easily dulled my interest. Yet, it's Lezak's relay swim and even more so, the individual medal he wanted so badly that keep me tuning in.
Sorry Michael, as great as your story is, it's the Jason Lezaks of this olympics like the Rulon Gardner's of past ones that keep me watching. Phelps is the glory of sport, the icon but Lezak is the drama and the heart; he is the man we identify with because he is never the favorite, his wins are never easy, and his achievements so rarely headline making. Rather, his victories are often by slim margins, hard fought, and deeply, deeply personal... just like ours.