By M. Duncan Scott
MESA, AZ – July 26 – DID Michael Phelps’ quest for multiple gold medals just get a bit more workable?
Fox Sports – Australia has recently cited correspondents in Budapest, Hungary as reporting that 18-year-old European champion Laszlo Cseh has broken a bone in his foot and could miss the Athens Olympics.
Cseh injured himself on Wednesday while sitting down on a bench at a training camp.
The 18-year-old European champion in the 400 individual medley and 100 backstroke was to have further examinations on the broken metatarsal bone at Budapest's Sport Hospital, before making any decision about his immediate competitive calendar.
Cseh is the second fastest performer all-time in the 400 IM, from his swim at the 2003 Barcelona World Championships, where he chased Phelps to a world record performance, trailing only by 1.7 seconds. Cseh is even younger than Phelps and, thus, was considered capable of enough improvement from his Barcelona swim to present a real challenge to wunderkind Phelps. How this injury will affect his participation, if any, in Athens is of considerable interest.
With Cseh out of the race, Phelps by PR would have a nearly three second margin over his closes challenger, Erik Vendt and nearly five seconds over Italy’s Alessio Boggiatto, the 2001 World Champion. Phelps bested Vendt by over five and one-half seconds at the recent U.S. Olympic Trials.
The 400 Individual Medley is at the beginning of the Olympic program, the first event in Phelps’ personal marathon. The absence of Cseh would not only improve Michael’s already solid favorite status, it might even allow him to back off a bit to save energy for the duration while still garnering gold.
Could that adjustment make Phelps stronger when the 100 butterfly comes around? Will he be able to pull a few more tenths of a second out of his anchor leg on the 4 x 200 relay and pull off an alchemist’s dream of changing silver to gold? The speculation will add another layer of drama to the already fascinating quest for medals by the young man from Baltimore.