Michael Phelps has won 8 Gold medals in the Beijing Olympics, setting a new record for Gold medals in one Olympics. There is no doubt that there have been motivators that have pushed him harder to get all 8 medals. Throughout the history of sports, many athletes have made comments before performances that have fueled their opponents to beat them in stunning fashion. Journalists are guilty of this as well – criticizing an athlete who they feel will fail, but their prediction ends up totally wrong. This only motivates the athlete or individual being criticized to post the comments/articles on their “bulletin board” whether it be mental, or actual. As we set up the pins on Michael Phelp’s bulletin board, let us first look at a couple examples from the sports world:
Jay Glazer of Foxs Sports predicted that Randy Moss, wide receiver of the New England Patriots, would be “the years biggest letdown. Moss won’t be nearly as effective as was predicted. Not even close”. Thanks, Jay, for that extremely informative and accurate prediction. Randy Moss went on that year to to set the single-season touchdown receptions record in 2007. Most of us remember the NFC wild-card playoff game in 2003 at Lambeau Field between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. The game went into overtime, and there was a coin toss. When the Seahawks won the coin toss, the official asked Hasselback if they wanted to kick or receive. Hasselback replied, “we want the ball and we’re going to score”. Packers cornerback Al Harris ended up intercepting a Hasselback pass and ran it 52 yards for a touchdown, to seal a Packers victory.
So what is on Michael Phelps’ bulletin board? There are two specific comments that come to mind. The first comes from the “Thorpedo”, Ian Thorpe, the famous Australian swimmer who won 7 gold medals at a single World Championship, and who won 3 gold medals at the Sydney Olympics. I can understand why an athlete who is CURRENTLY competing against Phelps would talk some smack, but when you’re taking cheap shots from the stands? Come on…. Before the Olympics, Ian Thorpe was quoted as saying: “I have said before that I don’t think he can do the eight, and I still believe that…” This must have given Phelps some serious motivation. Thorpe has always razzed Phelps before swim races, but for him to do it when he is sitting in the stands is hilarious, and kindof pathetic.
The second quote comes from the now famous French relay team for the 4×100 freestyle relay. Before the race, Alain Bernard, the anchor for the French team, said the following about the upcoming race: “The Americans? We are going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.” As most of you have seen, it was Bernard who lost the race for the French team, when he stiffened up in the last 25 meters. Its not that the French had something against the Americans when they said what they said, its that when you say such things, its like drawing a huge target on your face.
Those are two examples among many of what Michael Phelps placed on his bulletin board. There are no doubt many other “posts” out there, but the important thing to remember here is how an athlete overcame criticism and incredible odds to complete the impossible. And a special thanks goes to Alain Bernard and the Thorpedo for getting Phelps to where he is today.