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[Opinion] Mothers of Medalists

Posted August. 20, 2008 07:32,   


American swimmer Michael Phelps has won a record eight gold medals in the Beijing Olympics. His comments are as famous as his feat. Winning his eighth gold Sunday in the 4x100-meter medley, he said he wanted to see his mother. He added he would go to Rome next year to compete in the world championships just because his mother wants to see Rome. One of the more handsome American male competitors, Phelps surprised the world with his comments. His mother sat close by in the stands while he competed.

Phelps, however, is no momma`s boy. His mother divorced his father when the swimmer was seven. She raised two daughters and Phelps, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. No wonder he loves his mother. Dedicated parents are a prerequisite for most success stories of great athletes. When the moment comes, however, the athletes seek their mothers, especially those who have huge physiques.

The American online magazine Slate publishes the Olympic Sap-o-Meter daily. The word "mom" is ranked tops. Slate drew up a list of 33 syrupy words that NBC chronically overuses: adversity, battled, cancer, challenges, courage, cry, death, dedication, determination, dream, emotion, glory, golden, hardship, heart, hero, inspiration, inspire, journey, magic, memory, miracle, mom, mother, Olympic-sized, overcome, passion, proud, sacrifice, spirit, tears, tragedy and triumph. Among them, the word “mom” stands above all, appearing 84 times a day. The word “dad,” however, failed to make the list.

The need for maternal love and guidance is not restricted to global athletes. Korea`s first gold medalist in Beijing, judoka Choi Min-ho, elicited smiles and tears by saying, “My mom is an angel.” On what he will do first when he returns home, he said, “I will travel with my mom. She’s sacrificed too much for me.” Lee Yong-dae, who won the gold medal in badminton mixed doubles, winked on the podium. His gesture fascinated all Koreans combined with his good looks. He later said, “That was for my mom.” Mothers are great. Fathers? They cannot even begin to compare.

Editorial Writer Chung Seong-hee (shchung@donga.com)