Usain Bolt? No.
Jim Thorpe? Ryan Lochte? Wilma Rudolph? Nadia Comăneci? My beloved Mark Spitz? Sadly, no to all.
Sure the measure of a true Olympian may be their “body of work.” But the true measure of greatness, in Olympics as in life, is who brings it on that day – in that moment when the pressure is on.
I am a firm believer that the greatest Olympic performance of all time was by Jason Lezak, anchor in the 400 meter meter freestyle relay in Beijing in 2008. When all the chips were down (France was leading by an enormous margin) and it wasn’t looking good for the US, Jason Lezak sprinted to the fastest 100 meter freestyle leg in history of 46.06. It was the fastest 100 ever recorded by six tenths of a second which is a fortnight in swimming times. Not only did he help to bring home the gold for the U.S. team, this near out of body performance secured Michael Phelps’ record setting 8 gold medal performance in 2008.
As a proud American and former scholarship swimmer, I believe this is worth your time to view it.
As a bittersweet footnote about the economic times we live in, Jason Lezak was effectively unemployed after this astounding accomplishment.
Lezak, 36, is the oldest swimmer on the 2012 U.S. men’s swimming squad. He is also one of the five captains for the 530-member American contingent.