Spitz Starts Life as Second-Greatest

1972 Olympic champ stays gracious after record falls to Phelps
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2008 7:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – Outspoken and prickly in the best of times, Mark Spitz is slowly adjusting to being the second-greatest Olympian of all time, the Wall Street Journal reports. Mustering a little grace for the occasion, Spitz says he's relieved at the downgrade. "He's got the burden of inspiring the youth as they go forward," Spitz says. "That is a relief."

Spitz made most of his income since the Munich Olympics from his greatest-Olympian status, although his personality kept him from the global megastardom that could now await Phelps. And while it remains to be seen if his No. 2 status will still be bankable, he seems untroubled by passing on the torch."It's Michael's time now," he says, though he notes Phelps' pose on Sports Illustrated mimicked his own. "Maybe one way or another, he's stuck with me."