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Tyler Clary: Olympic Swimmer Wise to Lay off Attack on Michael Phelps

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01:  Tyler Clary of the United States competes in heat 3 of the Men's 200m Backstroke on Day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 1, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIAugust 1, 2012

Michael Phelps is a legend. Tyler Clary would not be doing himself any favors by extending his one-sided attack on Phelps in Olympic competition.

Prior to the start of the Olympics, Clary was critical of Phelps' training regime and effort. He said this to Jim Alexander of The Press-Enterprise:

I’ve always called myself more of a blue-collar worker, as far as swimming goes. I work my (butt) off all the time. That’s not to say that everybody else doesn’t. But the fact that I know I work harder than he does makes me appreciate every little goal and every little gain that I make.

And the day that it happens, when I finally beat him, is going to be a huge deal in my mind, because it would be complete satisfaction. And the only thing that would be better than that is breaking the world record.

To put it bluntly, while attempting to paint Phelps as lazy, he was more successful in making himself look like a hater. He was wise to speak complimentarily of Phelps—especially considering he didn't back up his claims with performance in the 200-meter butterfly.

Clary finished fifth and Phelps won a silver medal.

David Woods of USA Today quotes Clary in the Detroit Free Press

I mean, he’s an incredibly talented athlete. I’ve said that several times. The fact that he’s able to do what he’s able to do for so long is a testament to how gifted he is.

It makes everybody respect that level of talent.

That is a far cry from the comments he was making before the Games began. There may even be some truth to what Clary was saying, but his rant seemed to be filled with envy and venom.

Fans will not respect or warm up to that type of behavior, and ultimately his endorsement potential will be heavily based on how much he's liked.

Clary isn't competing in as many events as Phelps or Ryan Lochte. He's more of a specialist, competing in two races.

To attack the most accomplished and perhaps the most beloved Olympic athlete in history is risky business. The fact that Phelps isn't responding to his criticism only leaves Clary on more of an island.

He has put tremendous pressure on himself. Phelps has already beaten him in the 200 butterfly.

Now Clary has but one more event to produce a medal—the 200 backstroke. He was the fastest qualifier, but losing head-to-head against Phelps has already made his claims sound silly.

It's clear Clary should just shut up and swim.

 

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