As Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett will tell you, comebacks are hard. So it’s a big deal Michael Phelps is at the Rio Olympics at all.
No other bloke has swum at five Games. And no one of his vintage has a right to be doing this.
Phelps is known for his turns. He could be a kilometre behind the pace and he’d make it up in the turns.
But this was something else again. Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman said it was “probably the best turn that might have ever been done.” I reckon he’s right. Not even Derek Zoolander can turn like this.
With that turn, Phelps put the US 4×100 metres relay team in front and they held that lead for another 250 metres.
A few minutes later, the world’s most decorated Olympian was receiving gold medal number 19. He’s got so many now he could rig the bullion market.
Standing alongside him were four Aussies — James Roberts, Kyle Chalmers, James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy — who touched out the Ruskies to take home an unlikely bronze.
It was redemption for Magnussen, the Missile humbled in London and humbler for it in Rio.
His games now over, Magnussen will now take on moral support duties. “I’ll be ahead of the cheer squad after tonight so I’ll be up there with my pom-poms,” he said.
In the rugby sevens, our Aussie girls will shortly be playing for gold against New Zealand, where we hope to see Ellia Green to some more of this.
In the basketball, the Boomers are punching well above their weight. Well, not punching because that would incur a personal foul.
But having beaten higher ranked France in their first match, they’ve now had a good win over higher ranked Serbia.
Not such great news for the Aussie women’s hockey team, beaten by the US and, though one of the favoured teams in the competition, still to open their ledger.
Without wanting to be alarmist, there’s a reasonable chance Australia will be at war with China before the Games are over, as the feud between swimmers Mack Horton and Sun Yang continues.
As Horton fends off death tweets from Sun’s irate fans, Chinese newspaper and Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times sniffed: “In many serious essays written by Westerners, Australia is mentioned as a country at the fringes of civilisation.” Pig’s arse, we are.
Blub of the day
Having secured the French Open title for the first time this year, Novak Djokovic was missing just one piece of silverware from his trophy cabinet. And Rio was perhaps his last realistic chance of becoming the Olympic champion.
In round one, he came up against His Olympic kryptonite, Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, the bloke who beat him for a bronze medal in London.
Del Potro had an unconventional warm-up to the match, trapped in an elevator at the athlete’s village for 40 minutes.
It seemed to work for him. He took the Djoker out in two tiebreak sets. That was shock enough. What followed was one of those unscripted moments only the Olympics can deliver. The synchronised blub.
The pair hugged at the net and cried on each other’s shoulders. As Nole walked from the court, the waterworks continued unchecked.
It was a dignified blub of defeat, one I thought beyond the Djoker’s capabilities. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Kleenex shares went through the roof.
Rope a dope
The International Paralympic Committee showed the International Olympic Committee how to take a tough stand on doping, banning the entire Russian team from competition.
IPC president Sir Philip Craven didn’t mince his words. “The Russian government has catastrophically failed its Para-athletes,” he said. “Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me.”
See Thomas Bach, that’s how it’s done.
That’s the spirit
A few days ago, French gymnast Samir Ait Said had the most sick-making moment of the Games when he dramatically rearranged his leg while landing a vault.
Well, look at him now.
Thought for the day
Thanks to a reader for this contribution. Let’s call her Debbie. Cos that’s her name.