2008 Olympics - in the blink of an eye

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Don’t bother calling it swimming anymore. You might as well call it Phelpsing.

Many of us, by now, might be tired of hearing Michael Phelps’ name, or seeing him up on the gold medal platform, or hearing that yes, yet again, he’s broken another world record.

If you blinked the other night, you missed an incredible end to a good race (better even than the 4X100-meter freestyle relay).

Seriously, did you see the 100-meter butterfly race? Phelps out-touched the second place swimmer by .01. One one-hundredth of a second. Less than the amount of time it takes to blink.

Phelps’ achievements in Beijing are outstanding, and no doubt left many of us wondering - is he human?

One thing I’ve always loved about the Olympics is the demonstration of just what a human being can do.

Though Phelps’ accomplishments are incredible, there are other stories that are worth noting.

Another swimmer, Dara Torres, just missed her first individual gold medal at age 41 in the 50-meter race.

It was another case of blink, and you’ll miss the end of the race — only Torres was on the losing side of a .01-second difference at the wall.

But she came back about half an hour later to swim the anchor leg on the silver-medal winning American 4X100-meter medley relay team.

And still another story about human spirit and overcoming diversity came from the gymnastics floor.

I’ve long had a beef with Olympic women’s gymnastics where the participants could barely be considered women. But this year one story stood out.

Oksana Chusovitina, a German gymnast, took the silver medal on vault. If you blinked, you might have missed her. She’s 33 — twice the minimum age to participate in the Olympics — and competing in her fifth Olympics.

A former gymnast for the Soviet Union and Uzbekistan, Chusovitina moved to Germany to get medical care for her young son, who had leukemia. Gymnastics, she said, saved her son’s life.

All of these stories, even Phelps’, remind me that there are few obstacles that can’t be overcome.