One of the great thrills in sports is watching the underdog break through unimaginable odds to claim victory.
It’s why Tebowmania took the nation by storm during football season, only to be surpassed by Linsanity in February.
It’s why Al Michael’s call, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” is one of the most legendary ever, and always will be.
And it’s why every IU basketball fan will always remember every intricate detail leading up to, during and after that fateful basketball game back on December 10, 2011.
But the 2012 Olympics gave us a chance to see the other side of the "dog" spectrum, if you will. Two top dogs, each seeking to complete their legacies that began in prior Olympic Games, came to London and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that they were the best ever at their respective sports.
First, Michael Phelps had to prove he was not just the greatest swimmer, but maybe the best Olympian of all-time.
Coming into the games, all the hype surrounded fellow American Ryan Lochte. Phelps admitted he didn’t train as hard for London as he did for Athens or Beijing, and Lochte claimed 2012 was his time.
So much for that. Lochte did leave London with two golds, two silvers and a bronze, but Phelps stole the show again with four golds and two silvers.
It didn’t live up to his eight-gold-medal performance in Beijing, but it left an exclamation point at the end of his historic career. Phelps left the Olympics with 22 total medals, the most all-time by four.
Oh, and 18 of those medals are gold, which doubles the amount of four others tied for second all-time.
Then, there was Usain Bolt. Like Phelps, many were questioning if he could continue his dominance in London. He had his own fellow countryman rising up, trying to make his own mark in the Olympics. But Yohan Blake—and everyone else, for that matter—didn’t stand a chance against Bolt.
He became the first sprinter ever to win both the 100-meter and the 200-meter in consecutive Olympics, and we’re still not sure if he finally gave it his all in any of those races.
Bolt couldn’t break the world records in either of those events like he did in Beijing, but he set the bar so high (or low), those sprinting records will both probably become one of sports’ most unbreakable, along with Cy Young’s 511 wins, Bill Russell’s 11 championships and Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points, among others.
Many people would have liked to see Lochte or Blake pull the Olympic upset and dethrone the king of their sport. It would have been a great storyline, another underdog defeating the almighty stalwart.
But do you know what’s better than the ultimate upset? The ultimate champion.
No one ever complains about the boredom of watching Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali or Wayne Gretzky win all the time. The spectators lucky enough to see these legends in their prime only rave about how special it was to witness such greatness.
Well, now you can tell your kids and grandchildren about Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. There sure won’t be any others like them, at least not for a long, long time.
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