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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

A Real American Idol

As the sun dawns on another week of Olympics, I'm going to take a small break from hockey to extend a somewhat belated tip of the hat to swimmer Michael Phelps, for his incredible feat of winning eight gold medals in one Games- five individual, three relay- surpassing Mark Spitz's record of seven golds in one Olympics.

With the U.S. in a bad situation politically, with so many other sad stories in the sports world - about steroids and betting scandals, premature deaths and dashed hopes- this past week has given us, as Americans and sports fans, something to cheer about. Even if you knew nothing about swimming before Phelps came along, you just had to root for the Baltimore kid with the shy smile and the outgoing talent, the drive and energy that bursts out of him every time he plunges into the pool and chops ahead of everyone else.

The best thing about all of this is that not every race was clear-cut, decisive for him. You had the first relay for the U.S., and Jason Lezak's now-legendary last leg, where he edged out France to give Phelps the second gold of his cache; you had Phelps' last individual race, where he beat out Milorad Cavic of Serbia by just 0.01 of a second, tying Spitz's record. Both of these were instances in which you saw the glimmer of humanity within the iron strength and focus, only to find the unthinkable had happened yet again. Anything could happen, and everything did. They added excitement, drama, disbelief.

Eight gold medals. One Games. It's a feat no one thought could be pulled off, and one that may never be repeated again, at least not for another couple of decades. Congratulations on making history, Michael. Your hometown, your country, and everyone who's been pulling for you throughout this amazing week are all proud of you.


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