The last 2 days have been as exciting as any that I have ever seen in swimming, and I would venture to say as exciting as any 2 days in swimming history. It all started with Michael Phelps' come from behind win by .01 second in the 100 butterfly. That win was an example of an athlete who just seemed to want it more than his competitors. Great swimmers have a way of getting their hand on the wall first in close races. It was all the more amazing given the circumstances, as this was his 7th gold medal, tying Mark Spitz and keeping his streak alive. The thing that seems to set Michael apart from others is the way he elevates his performance when the stakes are the highest.
After swimming was over in the morning, I covered the women's 3 meter springboard diving semi-finals. The U.S. had 2 divers (Nacilea Foster and Christina Loukas) who advanced to the finals. After covering the diving event I was able to go the National Stadium ("Birds Nest") to see some track and field, including the men's 100 meter final, which was won by Usain Bolt from Jamaica in an amazing world record time of 9.69. Since I have always enjoyed track and field, I would say that yesterday was one of the best days of sports I have ever seen, with these 2 marquee events (M. Phelps' 7th win and the men's 100 meter run) --- right up there with the NY Giants' Super Bowl win. One of the great things about the Olympics is the opportunity to see such great performances in different sports all in the same week or even in the same day!
Although it would be hard to top yesterday's excitement, today may have done so as M. Phelps won his record 8th gold medal. This was especially fun because it was the result of a great team effort on the men's 400 meter medley relay. The team consisted of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Phelps, and Jason Lezak. I was especially happy for these guys because I have known them all for over 4 years, as all 4 were on the 2004 Athens Olympic team. All are classy individuals and great ambassadors for the sport and for all U.S. athletes. The media and security presence was pretty crazy after Michael's 8th win.
Another great story from swimming has been Dara Torres, the 41 year-old swimmer (and mother!). She won a silver medal today in the 50 meter sprint freestyle, just missing winning the gold by .01 second. She made her first Olympic team in 1984! This is Dara's 5th Olympic team, which no swimmer has ever done. Obviously an inspiration to lots of middle-aged folks! We can learn from performances such as Dara's. The Olympic Games offer lots of examples of the limits of performance being re-defined, and this is one more example.
On the medical side of things, I have continued to treat both gastrointestinal illness as well as sinusitis, upper respiratory conditions, coughs, and sore throats. We have also had a few minor injuries in swimmers (finger, elbow) which occurred from a forceful finish. As Phelps demonstrated, a swimmer may hit the wall hard in an effort to get there first. Neither turned out to be serious injuries. I have treated several track and field athletes with various musculoskeletal injuries. I have also treated other Americans here, including family members, officials, and members of the media. As a physician, I am happy to help all Americans here!