Let's just stop dragging past greats out of their comfort zone of history

By Graham Morrison
August 18, 2008

For British Jewry, the big Beijing story is Josh West's silver medal in that most punishing of sports, rowing. For Britain as a whole, it's the weekend's golden haul. But out here, the dominant story has been Michael Phelps' record-breaking achievements in the pool - at least before "The Bolt" in the breathtaking 100 metres final.

Phelps seems a fairly modest sort of person for one so talented. But is he the greatest Olympian of all time? As one American track star pointed out, swimmers have a far greater number of medal opportunities than competitors in other sports. Alternative lists of "greatest Olympians"

I have seen do not include Sir Steve Redgrave who took rowing gold at five consecutive Games. Athletes Jesse Owen and Harold Abrahams and gymnast Agnes Keleti are other names which deserve to be in the mix.

Meanwhile, I am not swimming but drowning in a morass of paper. The Olympic information and results service is quite impressive - I probably have to say that because I contributed to it in a small way by involvement in a working party between the Atlanta and Sydney Games. Everything is available on numerous computer terminals sited around the various media working areas. But you can't mail stuff to yourself. It's a closed system - the IOC don't want it hacked. Just as well paper can be recycled.

Friday was first day I'd seen a truly blue sky. It was a pleasant contrast toThursday when it was bucketing down all afternoon despite a BBC World TV forecast that it would not persist. The rowing was cancelled for the day. So was some sailing, not for bad weather but rather through lack of wind. Lightning warnings were also posted. Just as well there's no golf.


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