Jason Lezak and a Hollywood Ending for the American Men's Relay in Beijing
Maybe it's a spur of the moment type thing.
Maybe it's because of the trash talk that Alain Bernard was doing before the 4x100 relay, how France was going to kick American butt in the final.
Maybe it's because of the underdog status and the seemingly insurmountable deficit Jason Lezak faced when he made the turn to the final 50 meters of the race while trailing Bernard by a body length.
In all honesty, it was the accumulation of each of those things that made my view on the Olympics take a 180 degree turn. While watching television during the late night hours back here in the States I began cheering in my room as Lezak continued to close on Bernard.
Am I a swimming fan? By no means. I appreciate sport and competition in just about any form. I realize that my expertise in swimming is about as deep as the floor of the kiddie pool at your nearest hotel, but what I saw this evening was amongst the greatest finishes to a sporting event I have ever seen.
Go ahead, call me crazy. From a straight fan standpoint, I recall only one game I have ever witnessed where there was even close to as much energy and excitement in the closing moments of the competition.
This event showed me what teamwork really is and what can happen when you have a whole team working toward something. Not to sound like a second grade teacher or anything, but it came down to teamwork and it came down to believing.
Personally I bought into what the commentators were saying when they stated multiple times that Lezak wasn't going to have what it took in order to catch Bernard down the stretch. But all the times it was said over and over again, Lezak never gave up.
He fought until the end. Think about a boxer going into the final round a favorite, starting decisively down, and then coming back to win in a knockout. How about trailing by three in the bottom of the ninth and winning the game on a walk off grand slam with two outs. That's what this race was to me.
My favorite part of this race was the fact that it did not come down to Michael Phelps. Personally, I have nothing bad to say about the most dominating figure ever to splash into the pool, but I enjoyed how this was about the four men involved and not just one of them.
Without Phelps maybe the United States wins the race, maybe they do not. The amazing part was that someone other than the supposedly most dominating swimmer on earth was the one that fought back and won this race by literally an eyelash. The 4x100 final had everything you could dream of and more if you were writing the script to a Hollywood movie.
You had the star of the team in Phelps, who is going for an Olympic record eight gold medals in the same Olympic Games. You had the trash talk from the French team, saying the race was there's to have and that the Americans were not intimidating.
Finally you had an insurmountable deficit to make up for by the swimmer who was referred to as the weakest of the four on the team. What did he do? He just went out and did what all screenwriters would have him doing on the big screen, motoring down the leader and finishing ahead, victorious in one of the greatest Olympic upsets of all time.
As I said, I am not a swimming expert and have never claimed to be. This race brought me back to being a fan of the Olympic games and showing support for the athletes of my country. For three minutes plus and until the anthem was played on Sunday night/Monday morning, I felt like a child again enjoying my team pulling an upset.
The cameras will now be turned even more toward the face of Michael Phelps who keeps his dream of eight gold medals alive—a dream that now seems more realistic than ever.
You can take whatever else is to happen in the 29th Olympiad, whether it’s the USA finding the promised land again on the men's basketball court, or a few sprinters who may break world records on the track.
The most unbelievable moment of the Olympics came as a man named Lezak along with his teammates Phelps, Jones, and Gale did the impossible and chased down the French in order to bring home Olympic Gold.
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