Excerpts of Laura Vecsey radio interview

Columnist discusses Michael Phelps' run in Athens

August 17, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

WYPR FM's interview with Sun sports columnist Laura Vecsey. Originally aired August 17, 2004.

Andy Bienstock, WYPR: At the Athens Olympics, Baltimore swimmer Michael Phelps rebounded from yesterday's bronze medals by taking two golds. One in the 200 meter butterfly, and one as part of the American 4 x 200 meter relay team. After the relay we caught up with Sun columnist Laura Vecsey, who's been following Phelps's progress. Laura Vecsey: He's doing what he should do. He led off the 4 x 200 relay to give the Americans a pretty good lead. There was a nice try at the end for the Australians, but the Americans touched out and Michael has his second gold medal.

WYPR: What was his state of mind following his loss yesterday to Ian Thorpe?

Vecsey: There are so many factors here. The guy did have an unbelievable opportunity to do what nobody had ever done before, or do what one other person's done before - Mark Spitz. But I think the pressure's off. The guy's only 19 years old. He still can peak for the next time around, if all things go well, and if he has good luck and he stays healthy. He can enjoy himself. He's very joyous with his teammates. It's a tremendous celebration. You guys will see the photos and the video soon. It was a guy who looks like he's going to enjoy himself and the experience and swim hard.

WYPR: We've been paying so much attention to Michael Phelps. Are there stories that we're missing, interesting things that aren't coming through on this side of the ocean?

Vecsey: The tremendous anticipation of what Greece has been able to pull off. They've done a wonderful job. I wish everybody could be here to see it. Athens is terrific. The venues are terrific. It's a great place to come and watch an Olympics. I wish everyone could come and buy tickets, because there's plenty to go around.

WYPR: Some people here are paying attention to the attendance problems. Does that have any carryover to the athletes themselves, playing in front of stands that are half full or maybe even mostly empty?

Vecsey: I don't think so. I think it would in a professional setting. Certainly your baseball players or football players feeding off crowds, there's no doubt that would help. Especially at basketball games - there have been some games here that have been pretty wild. But a lot of these competitors in judo or fencing or volleyball, those people have worked a long time for these moments, and the games themselves are a chance to have their minute to compete against themselves or the clock or an opponent. So I don't know if it's a huge issue.

WYPR: As a columnist, once Michael Phelps is done, where are you turning your attention?

Vecsey: It's the emancipation proclamation. There's no doubt watching Michael Phelps still is terrific. The story's not over yet. The guy's going for an unprecedented Olympics. Only one other Olympian has won eight medals in an Olympics and he certainly looks like he's going to do that, and that's a huge story.

Hear conversations from Athens with The Sun's Summer Olympics staff Monday through Friday at 5:45 p.m. on WYPR FM, 88.1.

August 17, 2004, 7:57 PM EDT

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