Skip to main content
Original Issue


On the Mark

What a great covershot of Michael Phelps, re-creating Mark Spitz's pose from the 1972 Olympics.The man whose medals record Phelps broke is referenced in another way as well:With Phelps's head placed over the word SPORTS, leaving only the SP and the TSshowing, it's almost like you snuck his name in there.
Herb Goodman, Dallas

Heinz Kluetmeier'sphotos capturing Phelps's win by .01 of a second in the 100 butterfly wereamazing (We Are All Witnesses, Aug. 25). The most incredible shot to me was thenext-to-last image, showing Phelps's arms stretched wide, well over a foot fromthe wall, and Serbia's Milorad Cavic inches away from gold. How did Phelpstouch first? It seems physically impossible.
John Bellio, Tucson

The GreatestDebate

Michael Phelps issurely a phenomenal swimmer, perhaps the best ever, and if he excels in Londonin 2012, we can begin to compare him with Carl Lewis as the alltime greatestOlympian. But I question whether, even for one Games, he had the "GreatestOlympic Performance Ever," as your headline said. To me, that distinctionremains with Eric Heiden, who won all five men's speedskating events—from 500to 10,000 meters—at Lake Placid in 1980. When Phelps, or anyone else, in anysport, wins everything from sprints to long distance, let me know.
Jeffrey Becker, Allen, Texas

In 1912 Jim Thorpewon both the decathlon and the pentathlon by enormous margins and finishedfirst in eight of the 15 track and field events that made up the twocompetitions.
John A. Milani, Fayetteville, Ga.

In Berlin in 1936Jesse Owens won four gold medals—in the 100, the 200, the 400 relay and thelong jump—and he did so in the face of Adolf Hitler's "master race"propaganda.
Larry Cahill, Irvine, Calif.

S.L. Price wondersif Phelps might be the greatest athlete ever (POINT AFTER, Aug. 25). For TigerWoods to compare with Phelps, he'd have to put four years' worth of majors intoa single tournament that lasted over nine days, and he'd have to win each round(no ties) against competitors who may or may not have competed in the otherrounds. For Michael Jordan to compare, he'd have to disappear from public viewuntil the championship series, carry the team each night, be the MVP of eachgame. I don't even know why we are debating the issue.
John Naber, 1976 Olympic swimming gold medalist, Pasadena

Real World:London

Looking ahead tothe next Summer Olympics (London Calling, Aug. 25), I doubt that London will beable to top China's opening ceremonies. But should British citizens find itnecessary to openly criticize their government for not staging as elaborate ashow, at least they won't be put in prison.
Eric Rus, Belwood, Ont.

For reprints of SIcovers, visit

To Contact SI> LETTERS • E-mail SI at or fax SI at 212-467-2417.Letters should include the writer's full name, address and home telephonenumber and may be edited for clarity and space. CUSTOMER SERVICE ANDSUBSCRIPTIONS • For 24/7 service, go to Call1-800-528-5000 or write to SI at P.O. Box 30602, Tampa, FL 33630-0602. Topurchase reprints of SI covers, go to ADVERTISING • For ad rates,an editorial calendar or a media kit, e-mail SI