Two weeks ago, swimmer Mark Spitz made headlines by griping about not being “officially invited” to Beijing to watch Michael Phelps break his record of winning seven gold medals during one Olympic Games. He couldn’t go on his own dime, he pointed out. “I am going to sit there and watch Michael Phelps break my record anonymously?” he asked, incredulously. “That’s almost demeaning to me. It is not almost — it is.” Well, now that Phelps has indeed broken Spitz’s record by winning eight Olympic golds, the seventies superstar is still shooting for the spotlight. While he was gracious to Phelps on NBC’s Olympic broadcast on Friday night, he has tempered his rhetoric in more recent appearances. At a Hyatt-sponsored press conference in Grand Central station yesterday, he claimed he could have tied Michael Phelps in his peak days. “I know everything there is to know about how to beat Michael, and he would know how to beat me,” he said. “We’d probably tie.”
Mmmm. Mark? That mustache alone would leave you at the other end of the pool from Phelps. You could filter krill better than him, sure, but as for speed? We don’t buy it. Spitz also pointed out to The Wall Street Journal that even though Phelps has eclipsed him, they’re still tied together in the public eye. “What does that say?” he asked a reporter from the paper, holding up the Sports Illustrated cover showing Phelps posed with all of his golds in mimicry of the 1972 shot of Spitz himself. “Maybe one way or another, he’s stuck with me.” Come on, Spitz. Chin up — as the WSJ points out, you’re still one of the greatest Jewish athletes of all time! Michael Phelps can’t take that away from you.