Pieces of Eight!
It all started on 08/08/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm (China local time) and for Michael Phelps it ended with 8 gold medals and 8 new records. It seems that 8 really IS the magic number!
Let's consider the evidence: In China, 8 is most definitely considered to be a lucky number. The Mandarin pronunciation ('bÃ?') sounds similar to the word for 'prosper' (which he did) and wealth ($1 million dollar Speedo bonus, anyone?). The symbol for the number 88 looks remarkably similar to the 'shuang xi' which is a popular design meaning 'Double Joy' (he broke 7 world records for speed, AND Mark Spitz's 7-medal Olympic record!) We're not the only ones who see the correlation either. A shrewd businessman once sold the telephone number 8888-8888 for $270,723 in Chengdu, China.
Oh, and that swimsuit Phelps was wearing was created by a brand involved in the sponsoring of 8 Olympic sports, by the way!
For years no one believed Mark Spitz's record would ever be broken. On Sunday, no one truly believed it would not. I think it's probably one of the greatest things that the world of sport has ever seen! It was hugely emotional to watch and I felt very privileged to be able to say I played some small part in the event that was Michael Phelps: Swimmer becoming Michael Phelps: Olympic Legend.
In a stadium packed with Chinese, Americans, Aussies and Europeans, it didn't matter who you were there to cheer on - the reality spread through the stands like wildfire. It felt like such a massive celebration of achievement and I could tell everyone in the stands knew that they just had witnessed history in the making. He's now the most decorated Olympian of all time. I find myself wondering if I - or indeed anyone - will ever witness a sporting achievement of this magnitude ever again. Incidentally, more people watched Michael go for gold than watched the last episode of Friends. That's a lot of memories.
We know there was so much more to Michael's big win at the Games than good fortune but let's face it, a little bit of luck never hurt anyone. Although I bet the airport's metal detector goes bananas when he leaves!
Paul Phedon works for Birmingham-based S&X Media and is representing Speedo at the Beijing Olympic Games.