When Michael Phelps won his 19th medal this week, he described his meeting with the relay team:
“I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment,” Phelps said. “I told those guys I wanted a big lead. I was like, ‘You better give me a big lead going into the last lap,’ and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I thanked them for being able to allow me to have this moment.” (ESPN)
In a radio interview I heard while driving (sorry, source — when I find you Iʻll make a link!) one of his teammates said, “We were always thanking him!”
I like the way Phelps acknowledges his team as supporting his leadership — and the way his team acknowledged his gifts as an athlete, pushing them forward.
Itʻs great that Phelps achieved his record because of teamwork, because of his relationship with his fellow swimmers. And over time, his athletic excellence (despite setbacks) demonstrated the individual excellence of his competitive edge.
I guess this officially makes him a role model for others who want to achieve athletic excellence. Now he gets to take the lead in a different way. I guess we could do worse — heʻs proud and humble, and quite authentic, in the moment of his triumph! I only hope we honor his team as well, because he couldnʻt have done it without them.