Last summer after the USA’s upset win over France in the Beijing Games’ 4x100 freestyle relay, Gainline ventured a post on Michael Phelps’ qualities as an athlete who makes everyone around him better.
Yesterday the New York Times revealed another vital angle: At the last minute, French officials changed the team’s lineup because they did not want the anchorman to be an American-trained athlete.
To swimming fans, that is a tactical error of historic proportion, since it helped Phelps claim one of the two precarious wins in his eight-medal haul. Of more interest to this audience is the reminder that some of the best athletes in the world come to America to plug into our university system, and yet domestic rugby continues to hedge.
The swimmers’ plan was for [Frederic] Bousquet to anchor: ‘My teammates said: “We trust you. You have the experience and you know how to race the U.S. guys,”‘ he told the Times -- assuredly at some cost to the 28-year-old’s career.
He suspects his preference to remain in the United States and take direction from his college coach, Brett Hawke, played a role in the decision that was handed down shortly before the Frenchmen entered the pool to warm up for the 4x100 freestyle relay final.
‘Our federation was so confident of us winning no matter the order, and the picture of French swimming they wanted all the cameras to be put on was Alain’s face. I don’t think they did it against me. I think they did it for Alain [Bernard], who was their guy.’
Yes, I know that America’s domestic championships are afoot and two USA squads have been named, but strategy (and execution) are often interesting since they form the basis of performance in 2011 and 2015.
On that note: Italy, Japan and South Africa are bidding for the World Cup in either 2015 or 2019, while England is aiming solely for the 2015 championship. Bidding on the 2015 event had been a tenet of the USARFU’s all-but-dormant strategic plan.