Michael Phelps Shows Why America is Still the Greatest Country in the World

Michael Phelps, possibly the greatest Olympian athlete, inspires many in his journey to achieve greatness and instill pride in this nation. 

One of the reasons why the Olympics resonate with the masses is that, for two weeks, we get to imagine ourselves as elite athletes and channel their wins and losses as personal triumphs and defeats to our psyche. We feel energized when our team wins and are elated when others that we root for win as well. No matter what our current occupation is, for the short duration of these Olympic games, we're all united in this collective group of dreamers.

We want to achieve, break barriers, dream and in some cases redeem ourselves from our former losses while making new friends and having fun along the way. Yet, the psychology of winning at the #Olympics -- and also at our economic success -- is very much mental. 

In the former, as a professional athlete, you have to trust that all the hard work, dedication and discipline pay off for reasons that are only known to the athlete/coach. So, even if you’ve clocked in years training to execute a routine and can perform it perfectly in the gym, it doesn’t mean anything if your nerves are shaky and a sub-par routine does not reflect the person that is capable of competing on the international stage as an Olympian athlete.

Similarly, as a nation, we’re faced with large obstacles: global downturn and consumers confidence are at an dismal rate, we need to overcome our mental blocks and be confident that our foundation (economic and political) can carry us through towards our next race. We’ve been there before and need to imagine a winning nation. No doubt, this will be difficult but if we believe that the road taken is right, that our "training" sets us up for success. 

I’m not saying we don’t have our own set of problems. We do, believe me. Watching the London Olympics, we’ve seen some major wins and some major falls. Michael Phelps' record achievements are, of course, a great national honor for the USA and a boost to the nation’s morale. But this time around, we sense a more mature and, dare I say, gracious version of an Olympian?  

There have been comments that question MP’s athletic ability and his qualifications whether he’s trained enough for this event considering his colleague and close teammate, Ryan Lochte earnest desire for the gold medal. At the 200-meter butterfly event, MP nabbed a silver medal for an event that rewarded him the gold previously in Athens and Beijing. He didn't let that "setback" get to him, as the 4x100 relay that same day gave him his nineteenth medal and seventeenth gold medal. Although he still has two more events to go where conceivably he could medal, winning is aided by the support of one's teammates. He didn't do it all by himself. 

Being on the losing end of really important events can be quite traumatizing and jarring. To contrast Michael Phelps, a three-time Olympics attendee, is John Orozco who is on the U.S. Men’s gymnastics team -- and first time attending the Olympics. He has said that the Olympics could lift make his family’s financial situation better. There’s a lot of pressure riding on his success and to see him fail at the pommel horse events is very unfortunate because I think Orozco has so much heart and he's come this far.  

Failing to achieve objectives that you've set for yourself introduces an element of doubt as to whether you have what it takes.  Part of a successful plan is evaluating whether a) those objectives are truly what you're capable of; or b) was it a simple case of nerves? 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Alina Tsui

New York native. She is a political-science major at City College of New York and is interested in breaking social, political and cultural barriers by writing about these issues.

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