For Michael Phelps, it’s not enough to just set a new standard. He has to demolish the old one. Winningest Olympian ever? He’s two golds past that already and not finished yet, just over halfway to his goal of breaking Mark Spitz’s record seven in a single Olympics.World records? In a sport measured down to the hundredths for a reason, Phelps sets a pace to crush one of them by more than four seconds.
Even when his goggles malfunctioned during the first race of a golden morning in China, the gangly, 23-year-old American squinted through water-filled lenses on the way to, yes, a world record. Of course, he was none too happy to beat it by only six-hundredths. So un-Phelps-like.
“In the circumstances, not too bad I guess,” he said with a shrug. “I know I can go faster.”
No wonder his competitors realize they’re merely swimming for second.
Monumental challenges for mere mortals seem almost inconsequential to Phelps.
“He is just a normal person, but maybe from a different planet,” said Russia’s Alexander Sukhorukov, fresh off a thrashing by the Phelps-led Americans but still good enough to have a silver around his neck.