Wearing that invisible armour of resilience and determination, Michael Phelps plunged into the Cube’s blue waters on Wedensday and plucked his first gold in butterfly ahead of Hungary’s Laszio Cseh. The quest for eight gold medals could have been derailed by water-filled goggles but Phelps took it in his stride.
"I couldn't have done anything either," he said, smiling at his helplessness. "I couldn't have stopped and pulled it away form my eyes. As soon as I dove in it was filled up." To think that even someone as programmed as him can have equipment malfunction.
"Going into the 150 wall and the finish, I couldn't see anything," Phelps said. "I went blind, so I just let it not disturb me. I remained focused and started to count my strokes. I am very good at that. I was just hoping that I was winning," said the world record holder who loves listening to music.
"I was upset it happened. But I did my best and won the gold." He ripped off the goggles to look at his time. He was in first in world-record pace and at the 100 and 150m marks he led Cseh by.67s. Phelps bettered his world record by .06 seconds. "I knew I could go faster than this. I hope I will do better next time," he said earnestly.
This from a man who had his teacher’s complaining to his mother “your son will never be able to focus on anything”. Hear him now. “I have to remain focused all the time. I have to take one race at a time,” said Phelps, who suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder as a child. He even was on medication, something his mother still feels bad about. He was put on Retalin at nine to control hyperactivity for a very short period.
When asked about his childhood disorder, he just said: "It is pretty big to stay focus. This is my third Olympics and I have already swum in World Championships and major meets, so I have got used to it. These things helped me to develop an unwavering focus."
Light side of life
Asked whether he is in touch family in the US, he said "I am and read out a text message he received from close a friend before Wednesday’s first race. The message read: "How many times do we have to see your ugly face," That sent the packed house to peels of laughter.