Tom Mason on why Michael Phelps has ruined the Olympics for men everywhere …
As a rule, us men don’t like the Olympic Games. You’d think we would and on paper, it ticks all our boxes. While activities such as shot-put (men throwing rocks as far as they can) and shooting (guns making loud noises) satisfy the reptilian part of our brains, there’s also the opportunity to sit back, crack open the biscuits and admire an athlete in the peak of their prowess. It doesn’t matter if they can run faster or jump longer than us. The chance to admire someone at the top of their game is enough gratification for us.
Michael Phelps changed all that. When his marble chiselled body hits the water, we grimace. As he cuts through the pool, breaking world records like he was the love child of a dolphin and Rebecca Adlington, we shy away. You see, we’re scared of Michael Phelps. And not because he could take us in a scrap. Rather, that he makes us look like a bunch of overweight layabouts. We are, but still. It’s enough to make us put the biscuits back in the cupboard.
When he hits the water, his legs kicking like they used to be attached by a sea mammal, we can’t help but feel inadequate. As our other halves watch him swim the distance between America and Ireland in a 200m pool, their eyes gloss over. We know we’re outdone and as much as our girlfriends and wives love us, we’ll never have the same amount of love that they have for that aqua Adonis.
What is a man to do? We can’t beat him at his own game. While we can swim quite well if we were stuck on a sinking ferry or, for example, if we were being chased by a shark, there’s no chance we could gain that kind of respect from our ladies, purely based on our swimming prowess. We could go and train down in the gym pool, but we’d have to find our Speedos first. They’re all the way up in the loft and it’s just not worth the effort.
Thankfully, the Olympics will be over soon. We can only hope the Olympic selection committee sees the promise in our backstroke and lets us compete for Phelps’ record of six gold medals in 2012. Granted, we might end up being the Eddie The Eagle of the pool, but at least we’d be providing a public service. No woman is going to look at our one pack twice.