Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Where do you put the Olympic medal in the dorm room?

Thursday August 14, 2008

A new crop of freshmen is arriving in Athens this week to begin the college experience at UGA. They’ll meet each other, size each other up, and compare notes. "Oh, you were in the National Honor Society? Me too. I also lettered in three sports."

One UGA freshman will be bringing something to campus that will be hard to trump: an Olympic medal.

Incoming Georgia freshman Allison Schmitt won a bronze medal as a member of the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay on Thursday at the Olympics.
Schmitt, a native of Canton, Mich., led off the relay that set the American record with a time of 7:46.33. Natalie Coughlin, Caroline Burckle and Katie Hoff joined Schmitt on the relay.

Schmitt is just one of 22 athletes or coaches in Beijing with ties to the University of Georgia. Not surprisingly, over half of them are competing for or associated with nationalities other than the United States. It’s also not surprising that most come from Georgia’s strong swimming and diving program which will include a wide range of representatives from the incoming Schmitt to coach Jack Bauerle. We’ll see more Bulldogs as the track and field events get underway later this week.

Even Suzanne Yoculan is involved. The Georgia gymnastics program has had its share of Olympians, and this year Yoculan provided expert commentary during the women’s team competition. Most Georgia fans know all about her strengths as a showman and promoter, but such a successful program can’t be built without strong coaching competency, and she lets that side loose in this commentary.

Since I’ve opened the Olympics topic, I have to tip my cap to Michael Phelps. He’s the most decorated Olympian ever, and he dominates this sport. But I’m not going to get much into the "best ever" discussion. He may be, he may not be, but absolute statements like this don’t impress me. I watched Phelps coast in yet another qualifier last night and thought to myself, "didn’t he just swim this event a few nights ago?" Oh, right – that was the 100 meter event, and this was the 200 meter. And each comes with a medal just like the other 79 swimming events.

Think if they approached basketball the same way. You’d have the same team competition still. But you’d also have a dunk contest. A three-point contest. A 1-on-1 tournament. A 3-on-3 tournament. A 3-on-3 halfcourt tournament. H-O-R-S-E. A free-throw shooting contest. A free-throw shooting contest using the granny toss. You get the point.

I don’t begrudge Phelps his success. Few swimmers excel outside of one event, and he’s in rare air even among other swimmers. Even fewer can do it from one Olympics to the next. His accomplishments stand on their own. I’m just hesitant to put everything on the total medal count when some very gifted athletes in their own right have just a single event and a single chance at their one gold medal.

One Response to 'Where do you put the Olympic medal in the dorm room?'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  • The reason why they only swim a single event is because they’re not talented enough to qualify to swim more events…like Michael Phelps did.

    Let’s also not forget that his qualifying times that got him into the Olympics in which he broke world records, are even more impressive given the fact that he was untapered at the time.

    As a former competitive swimmer I see his accomplishments much differently than you do.