Michael Phelps

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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Michael Phelps has not committed to making a run for Rio 2016, but if he does suit up in Brazil next year, he will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics.

Here’s a look back at Phelps’ first Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, courtesy of NBC footage, newspaper reports and autobiographies:

Phelps, with braces on his bottom teeth, walked onto the pool deck at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials at the Indiana University Natatorium listening to a CD of his favorite rapper, DMX.

At trials, the boy who sprouted four inches in the previous year to 6 feet, 3 inches, came second to 1996 Olympic silver medalist Tom Malchow in the 200m butterfly, earning a spot on the Olympic team.

“He doesn’t know what it means to go to an Olympics,” Malchow said then, according to newspaper reports. “He doesn’t know how it’s going to change his life. He’s going to find out soon.”

Phelps became the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since the Great Depression, when Ralph Flanagan made it to Los Angeles 1932 at age 13. In 2000, Phelps reportedly shaved his face maybe once or twice a month.

Phelps flew to Brisbane for a pre-Games camp, where he stayed out of trouble with a 10 p.m. curfew. Once in Sydney, he made several mistakes befitting a boy of his age.

Phelps roomed in the athletes’ village with 17-year-old Aaron Peirsol, a Californian whose use of the word “sweet” stuck with Phelps.

source:
Phelps listening to a CD while walking out to race in Sydney.

They played James Bond and Tony Hawk video games during free time, but while alone Phelps tried to fire up the game system himself. Not knowing the electricity conversion between the U.S. and Australia, he fried one of the games, according to the first of his autobiographies, “Beneath the Surface.”

Phelps proved much smoother in the pool at the electric Sydney Aquatic Center.

He looked up and saw some 18,000 people at his first-round heat and then swam a personal best to win over a field including defending Olympic champion Denis Pankratov of Russia.

“Boy, this guy’s going to be great one day,” NBC Olympics analyst Rowdy Gaines said on the broadcast.

In the semifinals that night, Phelps again clocked a personal best. And again, he swam with his waist-to-knees jammer swimsuit strings untied.

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Phelps with his suit strings untied before his Olympic debut.

“I just don’t think I’ve ever seen such poise in a 15-year-old boy,” Gaines said on the broadcast.

The next night, coach Bob Bowman wanted Phelps to arrive 2 1/2 hours before the final. But Phelps missed that mandate by 90 minutes. He took Peirsol’s athlete credential by mistake and had to go back to the athletes’ village to retrieve his own.

The final was at 4:20 a.m. Baltimore time. Phelps was obviously nervous. He did something you never see swimmers do during Olympic final introductions. He rose from his chair behind his starting block in lane six, walked past Russian Anatoly Polyakov to his right and up to Malchow in lane four.

“Let’s go baby, you can do this,” he told Malchow.

“I’m not sure what I was thinking,” Phelps said in his first book, “Beneath the Surface.” “I was kind of scared.”

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Phelps going up to Malchow seconds before the final.

Phelps was unaffected in the water, touching the wall in 1:56.50, which would have earned silver or gold at every previous Olympics. In Sydney, it put him in fifth place behind the winner Malchow. Phelps, in his trademark style, came back from being in last place after the first 50 meters.

Following the race, Malchow patted Phelps on the back and told him, “The best is ahead of you,” according to “No Limits,” another Phelps autobiography.

Phelps just about met Bowman’s pre-Games suggestion that he aim to cut one second off his personal best. He went .98 faster than at trials, where he also swam personal bests in all three of his 200m fly races.

Bowman put Phelps back in the pool for a workout the next day and reportedly gave his young phenom a piece of graph paper with “Austin WR” written in the margin.

The following March, Phelps became the youngest man to break a world record, doing so in the 200m fly at the spring nationals in Austin, Texas.

Michael Phelps’ potential record chases at Rio Olympics

Gracie Gold qualifies for nationals, Polina Edmunds shut out

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2014 Olympian Gracie Gold qualified for the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships by virtue of a third-place finish at the Eastern Sectional Singles Final on Saturday in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

“Bronze: so hot this fall,” Gold posted on Instagram. She last competed at U.S. nationals in 2017, when she finished sixth. She won the national title in 2014 and 2016.

Gold sat second after the short program with 63.55 points, and ultimately finished third overall with 109.90 points in the free skate for 173.45 points. The top four at the event qualify for the national championships in Greensboro, North Carolina in January.

Her free skate included a fall on the opening triple Lutz and an under-rotation on the triple Lutz, double toe loop combination. She also put a hand down on the landing of a double Axel. The rest of the program, though, was clean.

Her performance, set to “She Used to be Mine” by Sara Bareilles, can be found at the 2:05 mark of the on-demand stream of the event for NBC Gold Pass subscribers.

Meanwhile, her Sochi teammate Polina Edmunds was shut out of nationals based on a fifth-place finish at the Pacific Coast Sectional Singles Final (top four qualify). Her performance can be found for NBC Gold Pass subscribers at the 1:50 mark of the on-demand stream for the event. Edmunds last competed at Nationals in 2016, when she earned the silver medal behind Gold.

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Bronze: so hot this fall 🥉

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Brittany Bowe extends unbeaten streak to open speed skating World Cup

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Brittany Bowe extended one of the most dominant runs for any U.S. Winter Olympian, earning her first straight World Cup 1000m win to open the season on Sunday.

Bowe, fourth and eighth in the event at her two Olympics, clocked 1:15.35 in Minsk, Belarus, to beat PyeongChang gold medalist Jorien ter Mors by six tenths. Ter Mors missed all of last season after knee surgery.

Bowe won every World Cup 1000m dating to last December, plus her second world title in the event last February, lowering track records at each stop.

She ended last season by breaking the world record by .48 of a second on the fast ice of the 2002 Olympic oval in Kearns, Utah. That time — 1:11.61 — would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1997.

Bowe, a former Florida Atlantic point guard who missed all of 2016-17 with a concussion, is up to 23 career World Cup wins. That’s fifth on the U.S. all-time list behind Bonnie Blair (69), Shani Davis (58), Dan Jansen (46) and Heather Bergsma (34), according to schaatsstatistieken.nl.

The World Cup moves to Poland next week.

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