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September 15, 2008
On the Mark
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September 15, 2008


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On the Mark

What a great cover shot of Michael Phelps, re-creating Mark Spitz's pose from the 1972 Olympics. The man whose medals record Phelps broke is referenced in another way as well: With Phelps's head placed over the word SPORTS, leaving only the SP and the TS showing, it's almost like you snuck his name in there.
Herb Goodman, Dallas

Heinz Kluetmeier's photos capturing Phelps's win by .01 of a second in the 100 butterfly were amazing (We Are All Witnesses, Aug. 25). The most incredible shot to me was the next-to-last image, showing Phelps's arms stretched wide, well over a foot from the wall, and Serbia's Milorad Cavic inches away from gold. How did Phelps touch first? It seems physically impossible.
John Bellio, Tucson

The Greatest Debate

Michael Phelps is surely a phenomenal swimmer, perhaps the best ever, and if he excels in London in 2012, we can begin to compare him with Carl Lewis as the alltime greatest Olympian. But I question whether, even for one Games, he had the "Greatest Olympic Performance Ever," as your headline said. To me, that distinction remains with Eric Heiden, who won all five men's speedskating events—from 500 to 10,000 meters—at Lake Placid in 1980. When Phelps, or anyone else, in any sport, wins everything from sprints to long distance, let me know.
Jeffrey Becker, Allen, Texas

In 1912 Jim Thorpe won both the decathlon and the pentathlon by enormous margins and finished first in eight of the 15 track and field events that made up the two competitions.
John A. Milani, Fayetteville, Ga.

In Berlin in 1936 Jesse Owens won four gold medals—in the 100, the 200, the 400 relay and the long jump—and he did so in the face of Adolf Hitler's "master race" propaganda.
Larry Cahill, Irvine, Calif.

S.L. Price wonders if Phelps might be the greatest athlete ever (POINT AFTER, Aug. 25). For Tiger Woods to compare with Phelps, he'd have to put four years' worth of majors into a single tournament that lasted over nine days, and he'd have to win each round (no ties) against competitors who may or may not have competed in the other rounds. For Michael Jordan to compare, he'd have to disappear from public view until the championship series, carry the team each night, be the MVP of each game. I don't even know why we are debating the issue.
John Naber, 1976 Olympic swimming gold medalist, Pasadena

Real World: London

Looking ahead to the next Summer Olympics (London Calling, Aug. 25), I doubt that London will be able to top China's opening ceremonies. But should British citizens find it necessary to openly criticize their government for not staging as elaborate a show, at least they won't be put in prison.
Eric Rus, Belwood, Ont.

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