Michael Phelps – An Unconventional Role Model

Michael Phelps - An Unconventional Role Model

By Raymond Shipley

Michael Phelps is likely the most outstanding Olympic athlete of all time. With 22 gold medals to his credit, he is the world record holder for more Olympic gold medals than any other athlete in history. Additionally, he just won his 13th individual gold, smashing the record of 12 that stood over 2,000 years. Phelps defines athlete, and should be heralded as the icon he has become.

Born June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland, Michael Fred Phelps II is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 26 total medals thus far. He holds the all-time records for Olympic gold (22), Olympic gold in individual events (13), and Olympic medals in individual events (15). In 2008, Phelps broke Mark Spitz's record of 7 first-place finishes at a single Olympic Games, five of which were in individual events, which tied the single Games record. 

But Michael Phelps has always been far from average. The youngest of three, Phelps began swimming at the age of seven to help with his restlessness. Just a few years later, while in sixth grade, Phelps was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To complement his learning ability, fate also saw fit to adda few physical attributes to mark him as unique, including an arm span of 6 feet 7 inches, which is disproportionate to his height of 6 feet 4 inches. His torso is also abnormally long, while his legs are on the shorter side. Rather than be a hindrance, his short legs lower drag and add the enhancement of a hydrofoil. Having size 14 feet provides the effect of flippers, and his hypermobile ankles can extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer, which allows him to use his feet like fins. Likewise, his lungs have been reported to be nearly twice the size of the average human's, at 12 litres, although this is unconfirmed.

In 2008, Phelps had signed up for Project Believe, a project by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in which US Olympic athletes volunteer to be tested in excess of the World Anti-Doping Agency guildelines. During the 2008 Games, Phelps passed all nine tests administered, squashing any controversy about his use of performance enhancing drugs to achieve his athletic feats.

Michael Phelps is far from being considered an average human being. Despite the set backs of having his parents divorce at the age of nine, being diagnosed with ADHD and having a rather unconventional physique, Phelps has been able to both defy his setbacks, and use his uniqueness to become extraordinary. The lense through which we view life can color the way we see the world and our own situation, for good or ill. Michael Phelps is proof positive that greatness can be achieved by using every attribute for positive gain, and for that he should be a role model.  

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