Michael Phelps just accomplished an inhuman feat. 26 medals to his name, 22 of them gold. And he may win a few more before the Rio Olympics are through.
On Thursday, the Baltimore Bullet made history when he won the men’s 200-meter medley, his fourth consecutive gold medal in the event. That’s 16 years of Olympic dominance. And being that Phelps has yet to announce his official retirement from Olympic competition (though there is speculation) – which, even then he could pull a Michael Jordan anyway – parlaying his success into Tokyo in 2020 looks like a sincere possibility.
Kelly Slater knows a thing or two about maintaining a level of dominance in his aquatic sport. The 11-time world champ first rose to the top of the podium in 1992, his most recent: 2011. Kelly continues to compete on tour, of course. But just looking at those years, that’s 11 wins over 19 years.
Apparently the two met last August. Phelps posted a photo. “Cool catching up with fellow water sport legend @kellyslater… much respect.” Kelly chose to sit on reposting it until just a few days ago. Neither Phelps’ original post nor Kelly’s repost provide much detail as to how and why the two came to meet each other. Maybe it was happenstance. Or maybe a certain division of Area 51 where dominant super humans are bred and need a dominance booster shot every now and then. Who knows? But the amount of athletic dominance encapsulated in a single photo can’t be overstated.
Kelly used the repost opportunity to congratulate Phelps – preempting, a bit, his Thursday four-peat.
“This guy is a beast,” said Kelly on Instagram. “I’ll just say congratulations on whatever the hell you just did cause we can’t quite comprehend it. When talent and desire have a common goal, everything is possible. You said you would quit after the last Olympics but it’s quite obvious you would still win numerous medals in Japan 2020 as well. And I hope you do.”
With Thursday’s win, Phelps officially has 12 individual gold medals. According to the Olympics website, you’d need to go back over 2,000 years to find an Olympic athlete that dominant – a sprinter named Leonidas of Rhodes.