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Michael Phelps - Good or Bad Role Model
Micheal Phelps - Good Role Model
Right up front I am going to say that Michael Phelps is one very cool guy.
One of the things I most admirable about him was at the 2004 Athens Olympic games he gave up his spot in the Mens 4x100m Medley relay so that Ian Crocker could swim the 100m Fly leg. Ian Crocker had missed out on a Gold Medal through illness, but had recovered during the competition. Michael Phelps asked the head coach to let Ian Crocker swim the fly leg an have a shot at an Olympic Gold medal. Phelps stood by the pool to watch just that happen - that is true sportsmanship and is a rare glimpse of the Olympic spirit.
I don't think anyone can find fault with Michael Phelps acheivements. Michael Phelps is so much more than his recent 2008 Olympics Swimming performance. His performance has been outstanding for years and he has a not just a great but an incredible team spirit.
From a physical point of view Michael Phelps at 23 years of age is a giant of an athlete. Standing some 6 feet 4 inches tall with size 14 feet! Genetically he has certainly been blessed.
Genetics alone will not get you 8 Gold Medals at one Olympic Games to add to the 3 Golds from another. And he cannot be praised for his genetics. He must be very thankful for the great raw materials he has been blessed with.
Michael Phelps adds in the ingredient of training hard - which wins him points for being a good role model.
He works meticulously on the little things that let so many others down.
He hasn't picked the easiest of routes for a swimmer. Being an individual medley swimmer means he has to be outstanding in all four strokes. Five strokes if you count kick as a stroke - or perhaps that is another of his little secrets!
To hold a World Record in one stroke is an incredible feat, but to hold World Records in more than one stroke - that is true brilliance.
Michael Phelps' training regime is something like 6 days a week for 5 hours a day. This gruelling day in day out training regime, combines both water-based and land-based training. To get up day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year to train like this, shows true dedication, determination and strength of character.
It is said that a year or so ago Michael Phelps handed his Coach Bob Bowman a piece of paper with his goal for the year. That goal was to bring home 8 Gold Medals from the Beijing Olympics.
Yet another trait of a great role model - have clearly defined goals, write them and set a time frame. I think he got ticks for all of those.
So the big question is how could I possibly think that Michael Phelps is a BAD role model?
Michael Phelps - a Bad Role Model
Why do I think that Michael Phelps is a BAD role model?
It is hard, he does have so many positives, but he also has one very big negative to his success.
He recently revealed his rival defeating secret weapon. A 10,000 to 12,000 calorie a day diet.
Based on his work out regime, I can understand that perhaps 12,000 calories a day to support that is required.
There is no doubting it, he does look great. But where I really have a problem with this is when you realise where he gets his calories from.
Michael Phelps says he doesn't worry about what he eats, he is more focussed on getting enough calories!
This is an example of his dietary intake:
- 3 fried-egg sandwiches,cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise.
- 3 egg omelet and grits
- 3 slices of French toast with powdered sugar
- 3 chocolate chip pancakes
- 2 cups of coffee
- 500g of enriched pasta - which is a family sized packet!
- 2 large ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread with mayonnaise
- 1,000 calorie energy drink.
- 500g of pasta with a sauce like carbonara!
- 1 whole pizza
- 1,000 calorie energy drink.
No wonder Michael Phelps was recently quoted as saying:
"Eat, sleep and swim, that's all I can do."
I was gagging at the first 3 fried egg sandwiches!
Put me out of this equation, I am certainly not an olympic athelete. But I do have an interest, I have a budding young swimmer in my family and I am always looking to find her good role models.
If she knew what Michael Phelps ate, boy would I have a problem! She would LOVE to eat like this!
How can you explain to an 11 year old, that Micheal Phelps has been blessed with a genetic make-up that allows him to eat all this high fat, high sugar diet and still perform at peak levels.
For most people this kind of diet is a recipe for disaster. It could be setting Michael Phelps up for many diseases in later life, like heart problems, vascular disease and diabetes to name a few.
How many athletes have you seen in later life struggling with weight problems and these types of diseases?
Whilst I hope that this is not the case for Michael Phelps, I do think his diet is certainly not a positive model for anyone to be following.
I think from a dietary point of view Michael Phelps is a bad role model.
So next time you are hailing his achievements and thinking you should follow his example or get your kids to role model him - remember what he eats.
I would love to see my daughter achieve her dreams, but not at the cost of her long term health.