Phelps' Quest Perfectly American
Swimmer balanced domination with near-misses
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 17, 2008 4:01 PM CDT
Michael Phelps swims the butterfly leg of the men's 4x100-meter medley relay final to win gold Sunday, August 17, 2008.    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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(Newser) – Michael Phelps’ quest for eight gold medals was a perfect sports story for America: we like our athletes to either dominate or come from behind at the last minute, and Phelps delivered on both counts. He was both “the juggernaut and the ninth-inning home run with two outs and two strikes,” writes Mike Lopresti in USA Today—and that made him “the most compelling figure to slice through water since Jaws.”

“A legend-in-the-making ought to have to sweat,” Lopresti writes. And sweat Phelps did, when one gold medal hinged on a camera’s scrutiny, and another on a teammate's remarkable feat. Even competitors were awed, including an Australian who got teary at the US national anthem as Phelps was decorated. “It's been nothing but uphill rollercoaster,” Phelps said. “It's been nothing but fun.”