Image credit: Sports Illustrated
Michael Phelps is the most decorated olympian of all time with 28 medals and 23 of them in gold.
His success has been attributed to many things including his anatomy. According to Scientific America (SA), “Phelps’s arms extend 80 inches (203 centimeters) tip to tip, and his body measures in at 76 inches (193 centimeters) in height. Most of the time, a person’s height normally corresponds closely to the distance between his outstretched hands. ” In other words, his (Phelps’s) arm span tip to tip is longer than his height.
The most celebrated swimmer is also said to be double jointed. With his giant size-14 feet reportedly he can bend 15 degrees farther at the ankle than most other swimmers, turning his feet into virtual flippers writes a Detroit News blog. This flexibility also extends to his knees and elbows, possibly allowing him to get more out of each stroke.
It is said that in his early days his peers poked fun at his absurd physiology and called him names. His ‘absurd’ physiology turned out to be a strength in future.
Does Michael Phelps’s anatomy give him undue advantage to succeed in the field of swimming? Did Albert Einstein’s IQ give him an undue advantage in the field of theoretical physics?
Are success genes hardwired into some and not others thereby given them the undue advantage?
By the way, Kosuke Kitajima is a 5ft 8inch (according to SA) Japanese swimmer who has won gold medals in the 100m and 200m breast stroke events. Michael Phelps is 6ft 4inch dwarfing Kosuke in comparison…yet he, Kosuke, also succeeded in swimming.
While expressing one’s gifts and talents in the right field (Yes, Phelp’s physiology gives him some advantage in swimming) gives one a great start in the sprint of life something(s) else is required to get to the finish line. Just ask Usain Bolt.
Something called, for want of a better phrase, the will to succeed makes the difference.
The will to succeed is what makes one go on while others quit.
It crystallizes into disciplined actions aimed to succeed.
It gives you the mental strength to do what others are not willing to do. The willingness to go the extra-mile, deferring present comfort in exchange for future victory.
Private victory always precedes public victory. It is the late nights spent working while others are sleeping.
The additional time, effort and energy we put into perfection that makes the difference. Paying attention to the details in our craft.
Yes, talent gives an advantage but when talent is not used correctly or at all it can, like a useless muscle, atrophy. The world is filled with casualties of this abuse.
Kudos to the man quoted to have said “If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do”.
Talent is not enough.