By Josh Kramer
There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Michael Phelps owns Ryan Lochte. Even though 2012 was supposed to be Ryan Lochte’s “time,” it surely hasn’t been (at least since last Saturday’s 400 IM). Yesterday, this fact was confirmed when Phelps defeated his “rival” in the 200 IM, becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympics. Michael Phelps has left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the greatest Olympian of all time. Anybody who had any doubts or questions heading into London, likely has dismissed those thoughts.
Things in London started out so bleak for Phelps with a very disappointing fourth place finish in the grueling 400 IM. Phelps appeared ill-prepared and disinterested. Since then, the “GOAT” of Olympic swimming has added to his medal collection with two golds and two silvers. Phelps has 20 overall medals, the most ever for an Olympic athlete (two events left to go in London). The US male athlete with the second most medals: Ryan Lochte (11). Amazingly enough, since 2004, Phelps and Lochte have combined for 31 medals (likely have more on the way). This combined total since 2004 would rank them in the top 20 as a country for overall medals since Athens (2004 Olympics).
I have never been a pool fanatic. Swimming is a sport I have always respected due to the difficulty, discipline, and mental toughness it takes to thrive in. But I must admit that I have never been an avid fan. I do know that all of the talk heading into London centered on the Lochte/Phelps rivalry, and how Lochte was going to steal the show in London. Sure, Lochte has had a very impressive showing in the Olympics, but he has not nearly lived up to the hype. He has struggled to manage the heavy work (event) load. Phelps has outshined his rival despite lowered expectations. Also, do not forget that when the heat was on Phelps in Beijing, he went a mind-boggling eight for eight.
I truly respect Lochte’s work ethic. He is on his way to mega-stardom (already there really). Lochte has killed himself for the last four years to put on a similar show to that of Phelps in Beijing. Unfortunately for him, he will never be Michael Phelps. No matter how hard he works (I hope he proves me wrong in Rio). Hard work beats talent any day, except in Michael Phelps case.
Though Lochte is likely the better all-around swimmer in the present, Phelps handled his rival for one last time yesterday and confirmed a fact that I think everyone already knew.
Michael Phelps is greater in the pool than Ryan Lochte will ever be.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.