[Latest Update] Michael Phelps defeats world record holder Ryan Lochte in the 200 meter IM to grab his 16th gold. He also will be awarded a bologna sandwich by Sebastian Coe. Phelps at 27 proclaimed the greatest Olympian ever as I type this by the BBC announcers as the American flag is raised for Phelps.
Already, London 2012 has served up a fair share of Olympic gaffs and misdeeds. If these Olympics are the very first so called “social media Olympics” the UK picked a very bad digital time to host. Or maybe they picked the wrong chief. Lord Coe’s coming off as snooty when asked about Michael Phelps being the greatest Olympian, is this week’s PR Goofy.
Just about every newspaper on the planet has now run the story. Headlines like; “Sebastian Coe: Phelps not greatest” (Via ESPN), “London 2012 Olympics: Michael Phelps not the greatest Olympian, says Seb Coe” (Via The Telegraph), and “Phelps “probably not” greatest Olympian: Coe” ring of bad form and bad PR for anyone in a position like Coe’s at LOCOG. Stating the obvious, that Phelps is the most decorated…
By all accounts so far former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe may not even consider anyone but a Brit as the greatest. Coe is quoted as having offered these suggestions for the seating chart on Mount Olympus:
“I could throw out a whole series of names, I could throw out Steve Redgrave, I could throw out domestically Daley Thompson.”
Could you now? No doubt the Queen Mother or one of her private secretaries (yes, royalty sometimes need several) Edward Young could get on Coe’s list, for now it looks like Coe’s biggest claim to fame outside his immortal fame as one of the greatest middle distance runners ever, is having convinced the Queen to do a commercial.
The story goes, Coe related Danny’s Boyle’s idea of Daniel Craig as Bond and the Queen as her majesty, for the opening segment. And that’s it. Michael Felps is the Olympic equivalent of a bologna sandwich, and anybody who is British “might” be the world’s greatest Olympian.
Why the big deal? Seb Coe, most people might have thought, should have been above such comment. Sure, Britain’s Olympic ambassador, or even Nike’s (Coe is on the footwear giant’s board), is entitled to his opinion. Maybe power corrupts some things? Maybe time and distance finally distances us from proper form? Who can say? Whatever cause one of Her Majesty’s Knights to show bad form here, it does not sit well.
Michael Phelps, Jesse Owens (whom Coe reportedly mentioned), Carl Lewis, Al Orter (one mentioned by this writer), every pub and sports bar on Earth argues their favorites, it’s true. But, every sports pub in the UK is not held to the same standard, nor should they be, of the likes of a former member of Parliament and a superior athlete holding four Olympic gold medals himself. Heroes should be above this sort of thing.
Vancouver saw the Nodar Kumaritashvili death and insult tragedy-fiasco, the President of the IOC with foot in mouth disease. Now London inches toward its own petty infamy. Racism, bad manners, and more. Still, the events, the athletes in most cases, are as always – extraordinary.
Lucky for Olympic officials and sponsors, huh? A bit of PR advice for his lordship.
“We are thrilled that Michael Phelps distinguished himself so, here in London. As to whether or not he is the greatest Olympian ever, it is not within my power to crown such a hero. He is without a doubt among an elite group of athletes indeed.”
I know, America’s champion being a bologna sandwich sounds better.