It was a very long time ago. Exactly 20 years ago in fact. The Olympics were being held Asia, in Seoul, Korea.
And there was a swimmer attempting the Holy Grail of Swimming. Matt Biondi of the US was the glamorous rock star of swimming that Michael Phelps will never be…. and he was attempting the impossible, that of equalling Mark Spitz’s 1972 record of 7 gold medals.
A reason for Biondi’s superstardom was also that he was winning the marquee events, the 50 freestyles and 100 freestyles. And well, he was winning…. everything on his way was blown away, and he was moving with a sense of inevitability towards the milestone.
And then there was a 100m butterfly race. Biondi was expected, as usual to blow the race away, and even the world champion, Michael Gross of West Germany, did not seem like he will have a chance against the inevitable Biondi machine.
And indeed, Gross didn’t. Biondi did beat Gross. But there was this unheralded guy from a country nobody had ever heard of…. he touched the pad a mere 0.01 of a second in front of Biondi. That guy was Anthony Nesty, of Surinam, only the second black person to win an Olympic aquatic gold.
Cut to present – Michael Phelps (less of a rock star and an eminently likable guy, seemingly) in trying to do one better, he indeed is trying to overhaul Mark Spitz’s record by going for 8 golds, in this Olympic games in Asia.
The World Champion is Ian Crocker. It seems that he will have a tough time in his hands defeating the inevitable Phelps machine in the 100 butterfly.
And then, there is Milorad Cavic (click here). He is indeed from a slightly more known country, Serbia. And he has the fastest time of the finalists. (click here) Can he do a Nesty? I suggest, track this race. It might be the biggest of this Olympic games.