We had gathered at Lina's house to watch the greatest race of the century -
Michael Phelps versus Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly. It was to us the
greatest event in the Beijing Olympics 2008 as we were all in the school
swimming team, our forte - the butterfly stroke.
Half of us were for Cavic, the other half, Phelps. Me - my hero of course. One
who is courageous, persistent, not one to cave in
under pressure. Being tall and good-looking is a plus point of course.
like Phleps will not be getting his seventh medal, I muttered to Dayang as I
chomped on my popcorn. Phelps was the seventh slowest of eight swimmers.
'I told you, Rajamoni continued happily, 'that man is not a machine. 50
meters mark. How can he...'
'Be quiet. Look, he's picking up! He has another 50 meters more to go.
'Come on Cavic; yelled June. `Come on man. You can do it.
'Look at Phelps! Gosh, he's pushing himself so furiously!'
We started shouting to encourage our heroes. My admiration for Phelps grew.
He had not given up. It was a race to the last. It was unbelievable. They were
abreast. The crowd in the National Aquatic
Centre started shouting 'Phelps! Phelps! Phelps!'
'Phelps! Phelps!' I yelled. Cavic lunged for the wall underwater. Phelps
swung his arms and seemed to be making a half stroke. 'Phelps touched first!' I
We saw both swimmers spin around and stare at the video screen. There was a
minute of palpable tension as the electronic
numbers rolled. There was one second of absolute silence at the Centre and in
the room. My heart was racing and thumping so hard. The results flashed across
Phelps had won by 0.01 second at 50.58 seconds! He did the impossible! I
danced round the room, pounded the table and jumped for joy. I screamed and
screamed. What a feat! He had won by a hair's breadth. A fingertip.
That man is a machine. Look at the breadth of his chest and the length of his
arms. The greatest of swimmers. The one without parallel. My hero.