My hands hurt from clapping and my voice is hoarse from screaming, but it was a great night at the pool for Michael!
After a day of sightseeing in the Chinese Markets, we headed to the pool for the finals of the 200 fly and the semi-finals of the 200 IM. Prior to this year, Michael hadn’t lost the 200 fly in competition in 9 years and it was tough when he was beat in Michigan for the first time, by Wu Peng, a Chinese swimmer who is competing here at the World Championships, earlier this year. Tonight was his night to reclaim the title of World’s Best in the 200 meter Butterfly.
We were anxious before the race, seat dancing to Lady Gaga and Pink, to expel some of the nervous energy. But when Michael started his race, with a fast reaction time, we knew he would have a great race, as he looked good from the beginning.
We swim each stroke with him, rocking back and forth, even simulating the turns with leaning forward as he stretches into the wall and then backwards as he pushes off. He cranked home on the last 50 and by the time he got to the half way point, we knew he had the race. It was great to see the happy, relaxed look on his face as he climbed under the lane lines to exit the pool. He looked up into the stands, where we gave his two thumbs up.
No matter the number of gold medals or how many times one hears the National Anthem of the United States of America, it never gets old. Seeing Michael on his stage, the podium, never gets old. He has accomplished such legendary achievements in the sport of swimming, that seeing his continued success is as equally inspiring as when he broke his first World Record or won his first gold medal on the international swimming scene.
MP fans came down to our seats to wish us congratulations and showed us signs and shirts that they had made with photos and sayings. Lots wanted autographs and more wanted photos, but all of the fans were gracious and warm. We enjoy meeting all of the fans, who have been so supportive of Michael’s swimming, books, swim school and Foundation. So, to the fans, the Phelps’ family thanks you!
It’s late here – almost midnight – and the days seem to be getting longer, while the time gets shorter. The days in Shanghai are flying by and tonight when Michael was standing on the podium, I remembered the first time I saw him on the medal stands on the World’s stage, in 2003 in Barcelona. I still see the little boy (even though he’s 8 years older and way taller than he was then!) I saw many years ago.
Michael’s win tonight made him the first person in history to win five World Championships in a single event for long course meters. Congratulations Michael on a phenomenal swim… we’re looking forward to the rest of the excitement as the last few events of the 14th FINA World Championships unfold.