One such story that already has surfaced involves Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq, an Iraqi sprinter who seemed to lose her opportunity to race when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended
You can bet I’ll be watching the women’s sprints to see how Hussein does. I’ll also be watching swimmer Michael Phelps, who most certainly will break the record for the highest cumulative total of gold medals won at the Summer Games, which is nine. He already has six from 2004. Phelps also has a shot at beating Mark Spitz’s record for the most gold medals at a single Games, which is seven. His teammate, Dara Torres, has a golden opportunity to make a splash by winning a gold medal at the ripe old age of 41. She wouldn’t be the oldest female gold medalist—that was 53-year-old Sybil “Queenie” Newall of Great Britain, who took the gold in archery in 1908. But Torres already has nine Olympic medals (four gold, one silver, and four bronze). Adding anything to that total would be icing on the cake for her and an inspiration to all of us over-40 (and over-50) gym rats.
Each of these athletes would be a terrific subject for a kids' biography that explores the factors which drove them to excel. A different kind of book could be written about one of my favorite Olympians, the perennial silver medalist Shirley Babashoff. A swimmer at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, Babashoff netted a total of two gold medals and six silvers. In 1976 alone, she came in second four times to East German women. To Babashoff, the extraordinary improvement in the Germans’ times, added to their surprisingly masculine appearance, suggested that they were enhancing their performances with steroids. And she said so to anyone who would listen. Her complaints earned Babashoff a nickname—“Surly Shirley”—and no end of criticism in the press. Years later, when the Berlin Wall fell and the records of
I'm looking forward to seeing what other interesting developments will materialize in Beijing this month.