Tokyo 2020: Spitz insists Phelps medals record is not unbeatable

By Sports Desk July 20, 2021

Olympics great Marc Spitz believes Michael Phelps' record of 23 gold medals will be broken by a future swimming sensation.

For the first time since 2000, the Games will happen without Phelps as a factor in the pool, and it will be the likes of Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel who draw much of the global focus.

Phelps landed six golds at the Athens 2004 Games, then a record eight in Beijing four years later, surpassing Spitz's all-time best haul of seven in a single Olympics, which dated back to Munich in 1972.

Another four gold medals followed at London 2012, before Phelps signed off from the Olympics with five triumphs in 2016 at Rio.

"Records are made to be broken, a point in case being Michael breaking my record that took over 30 years to do. Stories will still continue to be written about athletes that will challenge those that came before them," Spitz said.

Spitz described Phelps' contribution as "overwhelming".

"I don't want to diminish the value of any one of Michael's medals, but the young swimmers are looking at that as a benchmark," Spitz said, speaking courtesy of Laureus.

"They shouldn't consider themselves a failure because they can't quite stay on a career for as long as he did. But someday, someone will break that record unless they change the sport of swimming where some of those events aren't competed in and they make the programme so it has less events.

"Michael took what I had done and concentrated on how he could make and create his own journey. That became the gold standard then.

"The reason people think maybe my seven gold medals were so great were that somebody actually challenged it and then broke that record. Michael’s record will go down in the same way and somebody else will be inspired by what he’s done."

 

According to Spitz, Tokyo 2020 is unlikely to see such feats achieved, but he highlighted freestyle and butterfly maestro Dressel as a swimmer capable of great things at the Aquatics Centre.

Dressel won two relay gold medals five years ago in Rio but topped the podium six times at the 2019 World Championships, including four individual wins.

Spitz also earmarked Ledecky, already a five-time Olympic champion, as another American swimmer who could enjoy a golden Games.

"From a swimming point of view, there's some outstanding names," Spitz told Stats Perform.

"Katie Ledecky comes to mind in women's swimming. She's going to go down as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. The margins of her victories are enormous, it's incredible, it's epic in some of these performances.

"She was there during the Michael Phelps era, and there's also Caeleb Dressel who is ... I don't want to say a replacement for Michael Phelps. He's his own man and rightfully so he should be.

"He's dominated the distances and the strokes he's participated in over the last number of years. There's other people from around the world that will give those two athletes certainly a run for their money.

"The point is that I think we won’t be void in the sport of swimming with names and stories to tell."

Related items

  • Tokyo Olympics: AIU to investigate Belarus coaches over Tsimanouskaya saga Tokyo Olympics: AIU to investigate Belarus coaches over Tsimanouskaya saga

    The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is to investigate allegations that two Belarus coaches tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to board a flight home from the Tokyo Olympics.

    Tsimanouskaya claimed Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich took her to the airport against her will after she criticised the coaches on social media.

    The 24-year-old finished fourth in her 100 metres heat, before being pulled out of the Games by Belarusian officials.

    Due to also compete in the 200m, she claimed a Belarusian coach entered her for the 4x400m relay despite her never having raced in the event before.

    Tsimanouskaya said she did not feel safe returning to her homeland amid a crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed election.

    She flew to Warsaw rather than Belarus after being granted a humanitarian visa by Poland. 

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) revoked Shimak and Maisevichas' accreditation in August after launching an investigation into the saga.

    The IOC and World Athletics on Thursday revealed that the AIU will look into the matter.

    World Athletics and the IOC stated: "Further to the incident involving Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the decision taken by the IOC to cancel and remove the accreditations of the two coaches, Messrs A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich, as a provisional measure during the Games, the IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches. 

    "To this effect, and given that the Olympic Games have now concluded, it has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) – the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics – will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC. 

    "The AIU will publish the outcome of its investigation when this has been finalised."

     

  • ASAJ makes waves in artistic swimming with JOA support ASAJ makes waves in artistic swimming with JOA support

    The Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) is brimming with pride over the advances made in the discipline of artistic swimming.

  • Usain Bolt not plotting return despite Tokyo 2020 comeback temptation Usain Bolt not plotting return despite Tokyo 2020 comeback temptation

    Eight-time Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt is not contemplating a return to athletics despite feeling the temptation for a comeback.

    Bolt ended his career on the track in 2017, calling it quits at the age of 31 after a spate of hamstring injuries, one of which curtailed his efforts in what was supposed to be the Jamaican's final race at the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

    Although it was not the glorious conclusion he may have hoped for, Bolt still left sprinting as the world record holder in the 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m relay and his exploits on the track saw him collect a remarkable eight Olympic golds.

    Back in August 2018, Bolt begin training with Australian football club the Central Coast Mariners and he scored twice in a friendly before being offered a contract, which was to be partially funded by the A-League.

    He ultimately left the Mariners in November and declared two months later that he was done with all sports – though the thought of a U-turn did cross his mind later in 2019.

    However, his coach urged Bolt to resist such a temptation, seemingly denying the world another opportunity to see the legendary sprinter in action at another Olympic Games.

    Asked if he was contemplating a comeback at the age of 35, Bolt told BBC Sport: "It's too late. If I was going to come back it would have been to be for this Olympics.

    "When I told my coach I was going to retire he sat me down and said, 'when you retire, that's it. I'm not doing any comeback tours, nothing. So, make sure you are ready to retire'.

    "I remember I went to him in 2019 and said, 'what do you think about coming back for the Olympics?' And he looked at me and said, 'don't even start'.

    "So, if it's not my coach, I'm not going to do it, because I believe in him and if he says no, it's no - but I've got that itch though."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.