Last Updated: 1st January, 2017

Alive and kicking. Get a life

Some months before Michael Phelps swam his way to Olympic immortality with eight gold medals in Beijing he was involved in an unfortunate accident that seriously jeopardized his Olympic dreams. In October 2007, as Michael was getting into a friend’s car in Michigan, he slipped on a patch of ice and fell, breaking his wrist.  A cracked wrist meant a plaster cast serious blow to his Olympics preparation. He couldn’t swim for the next few weeks. He was shattered. Was the great eight gold Olympic dream over? All those years of practice, would they come to naught? After his fabulous showing in Athens, Michael had the world’s eyes trained on him-and he was a hot favorite for bagging an unparalleled eight-gold haul. Was the accident the start of the end?

Michael was disillusioned but quickly picked himself up and was back in the pool. With his plastered arm, he couldn’t swim but he would lie in the pool, kicking with a kickboard while his Olympic teammates did laps. He just splashed and kicked away furiously. While that was no substitute for swimming, it had one huge positive. He added incredible strength to his leg muscles.

Fast forward to 16 August 2008, in Beijing. Having won six golds, Michael Phelps was on track to the eight-gold dream. Just two races to go. In the seventh event, the 100 meter butterfly stroke event, Michael was neck and neck with Milorad Cavic. He won by the narrowest of margins, picking up his seventh gold by edging out Milorad by a mere hundredth of a second. That’s right-the margin was a hundredth of a second! As experts analysed the race and watched slow-motion replays, they found that in the last 5 meters of the race, While an exhausted Milorad dragged his legs, Michael used a strong kick to get his hands to the wall first, going ahead by that hundredth of a sec0nd, That strong final kick made the difference Those leg-strengthening exercises paid 0f!

When you are down and in trouble, keep fighting. Don’t give up. Keep kicking. It won’t help to wallow in self-pity, or curse your stars or play the blame game. Every adversity has an opportunity couched within. It is up to us to grab it. And what you do when the going gets tough, is what defines your outcomes.

Perhaps this explains, in a somewhat convoluted way, the origin of the phrase ‘alive and kicking’! Get a life.




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