The The Greatest Moments in Sports

The The Greatest Moments in Sports

by Len Berman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402220999
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 11/01/2009
Edition description: Book and CD
Pages: 136
Sales rank: 239,804
Product dimensions: 10.44(w) x 10.22(h) x 0.74(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 13 Years

About the Author

Len Berman hosts the popular Spanning the World segments on NBC's Today show. He is a former sports anchor at WNBC New York/ He has won eight local Emmy Awards and has been voted New York Sportscaster of the Year six times. His daily Top 5 email is featured in The Huffington Post and is received by thousands around the country.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Greatest Moments in Sports: Michael Phelps

There is an old saying in sports that "records are made to be broken." But that's not always true. There are some records that may never be broken. One that comes to mind is the New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio. He got at least one base hit in 56 consecutive games in 1941. Maybe someday someone will come along and get a hit in 57 consecutive games, but it seems unlikely. Here's another one. In 1938, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer pitched two consecutive no-hitters! To break his record, a Major League Baseball pitcher would have to throw three straight no-hit games. Trust me. That's not going to happen. At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, American swimmer Mark Spitz won seven gold medals. It was so unbelievable that most experts said it would never happen again. But it did in 2008.

Michael Phelps was born in Baltimore in 1985. Things weren't so great for him as a kid. When he was nine, his parents got divorced. In addition to that, doctors said he had something called ADHD. He had trouble paying attention. He had so much extra energy, he couldn't sit still. At first, he had to take medication to help him concentrate. But he also tried something else: swimming! He was able to burn off all that extra energy in the pool. And I'd say he got pretty good at the sport. In fact, he was so good that at the age of 15, Michael was the youngest male in 68 years to make the U.S. Olympic swim team. At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, he swam the 200-meter butterfly and finished in fifth place. Not bad for the teenager. But just wait!

Along came the Athens, Greece, Olympics in 2004. He was now 19 years old and went from a fifth-place finish in one event in 2000 to swimming in eight events. Michael won six gold medals and two bronzes—the second-greatest swimming Olympics that anyone had ever had. Spitz's record was safe for now. But just wait!

The Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, began at eight minutes after eight in the evening on August 8, 2008. In other words, 8:08 on 8/8/08. Eight is a lucky number in China. It was also the number of finals that Michael, now 23, planned to swim. So, if he could somehow win them all, he'd win an astounding eight gold medals, one more than Spitz did in Munich.

At the Olympics, you have to qualify before you can swim in the finals. This meant that if Michael were to swim in eight finals, he would actually have to swim 17 different races over a nine-day period against the best swimmers in the world. And it wasn't as if he was swimming eight races individually. Only five would be by himself. Three of the finals would be relays, meaning he had three teammates in each of those races. If any one of the other guys had a bad day, it would doom Michael and ruin his chance to make history. In short, Michael was trying to do the unthinkable.

The first of Michael's 17 races came at the Water Cube (the swimming center in Beijing) the night after the Opening Ceremony. That evening, he would race in a qualifying heat for the 400-meter individual medley.

Twenty-nine swimmers competed in four different heats to choose the eight best for the final. Michael not only swam the fastest time in his heat, but he was the fastest of all 29 trying to qualify. The eight swimmers who made it to the final didn't have long to wait.
The first swimming final of the 2008 Olympics would be held in about 13 hours, at 8 a.m. on Sunday. This was the first chance for Michael to win the gold medal.

Michael went into the race as the favorite. He was the world-record holder in this event. And he didn't disappoint. Michael not only won the race, but he also broke his own world record by more than a second. Gold medal number one. World record number one. But could he relax the rest of that day? No way. Later that night, he had to swim again in a qualifying heat for the 200-meter freestyle. He finished second in his heat, but he was fast enough to qualify for the semifinals. Now his day was done. One gold medal down; seven to go.

The next day was even crazier. At ten o'clock in the morning, he swam in the semifinals of the 200-meter freestyle and qualified for the finals the next morning. And then about 80 minutes later, he had to get into the water for the final of the 4x100-meter freestyle. What sports fans around the world were about to see would be one of the most exciting moments of the entire Olympics.

Remember, Michael had to depend on three teammates to accomplish his golden goals. Michael swam the first 100 meters. Not bad. He broke the American record, but his time was only good enough for second place to the Australians. Michael then stood on the pool deck and became the most famous cheerleader in swimming history.

With just one length of the pool left, the Americans were trailing the French. And then the fourth American swimmer, Jason Lezak, went to work. With Michael cheering him on, Lezak swam the fastest 100 meters in relay history. It came down to the final stroke. Lezak and Alain Bernard of France both reached for the wall, and Lezak touched first by an incredible eight one-hundredths of a second! The United States had won! Two golds for Michael. Two world records. But this one would have been impossible without a little help from his friends.

The next several days were a blur. Michael won gold medal after gold medal. He swam heats, finishing first or second every time. One day, he won two gold medals an hour apart and set world records in both! And that same night, he finished first in another heat. It was wild. Michael said: "I eat, sleep, and swim. That's all I do." We don't know much about the sleeping, but the other stuff was unbelievable. Along the way, he won his fourth gold medal, which, when added to his six from Athens, totaled 10! Nobody in Olympic history had ever won 10 gold medals.

As dawn broke in Beijing on Saturday, August 16, 2008, here's what Michael had done so far: He had now swum 15 heats and finals. He had qualified in every heat, and in all six finals that he raced, he had won a gold medal and set a world record. He was still one gold medal shy of Spitz's record of seven. Nobody could have predicted what was about to happen.

That morning was the final of the 100-meter butterfly (two lengths of the pool). Michael was trying to "tie history." Halfway through the race, Michael was in seventh place. Would this be the race he would finally lose? One by one, Michael started catching up to the other competitors when, at last, only a Serbian swimmer, Milorad Čavić, stood between Michael and gold. But Čavić wouldn't fade. The two of them splashed to the finish and then it was over.

Table of Contents

Introduction [Track 1]

Michael Phelps
The Babe's Called Shot
The '69 Miracle Mets [Track 2]
Hank Beats the Babe [Track 3]
The Great One [Track 4]
A Perfect 10
Hitler's Olympics
Arthur Ashe
Battle of the Sexes
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Greatest Play in Super Bowl History [Track 5]
The Stanford Band Play [Track 6]
The Youngest Master
Clay Defeats Liston
Wilt Scores 100 [Track 7]
Michael Jordan's Shot [Track 8]
Villanova vs. Georgetown
Richard Petty
U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer
Big Red [Track 9]
Jackie Robinson
Roger Bannister
Breaking the Curse of the Bambino
The Immaculate Reception [Track 10]
The Miracle on Ice [Track 11]
Postscript [Track 12]

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