These thoughts came rushing back to me when I called home from here last night. It's hard to believe, but our son, David, is almost 7. The day I left, he had just gotten braces. I haven't seen them yet. He told me they are blue. I didn't know they had colors.

My wife, Maryann, told me over the phone that she and David were getting ready to watch Michael Phelps in the 400-meter individual medley, a race I had covered several hours before. NBC's coverage is not even plausibly live.

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  • About Harvey


    Randy Harvey is reporting from his 13th Olympic Games. He has covered every Summer Olympics since 1976 and every Winter Olympics since 1988. He joined The Sun as the assistant managing editor for sports in April and has previously worked for the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times.
  • WBAL-TV's Noel Tucker blogs from Olympics
I remained on the line as they watched. Maryann gave me the stroke-by-stroke analysis, as if I hadn't seen the race. I enjoyed it even more the second time, not seeing it, as the first. I told her some things to look for at the end, when Phelps acted less thrilled with his own world record than he did at teammate Erik Vendt's second-place finish.

After the race, David, who swims for the Otterbein Otters, said, "Dad, Michael Phelps is great.''

That was hardly a revelation to anyone but him. He doesn't read the sports pages yet. But it reminded me of when I used to watch sports with my dad.

My family's in Baltimore and I'm here for two more weeks, but for a short time we were in the same place.


August 14, 2004 7:54 AM ET
A new swimming star isn't born

This morning, preparing to cover the first full day of athletic competition at the Summer Olympics, I couldn't help but think back to 1988.

I was the international sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering the Games in Seoul. Matt Biondi was the best swimmer of his time, and, like Michael Phelps 16 years later, was pursuing Mark Spitz' record of seven swimming gold medals in a single Olympics.

Biondi's quest ended early. He would still finish with a remarkable five gold medals, a silver and a bronze, but, after the Spitz chase was done, he became an afterthought in media coverage while a new swimming star emerged.

That was Janet Evans, who, at 17, burst into international consciousness with two gold medals.

I wondered this morning if history might repeat itself. Was it possible that Phelps, of Rodgers Forge, would win four or five gold medals and still be considered a disappointment while his teammate with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Katie Hoff, of Abingdon, upstaged him with wins in her two events?

That possibility soon became history. While Phelps easily won his early-morning heat in the 400-meter individual gold medal and retreated to rest for tonight's final, Hoff finished fifth in her heat of the women's 400 IM and failed to qualify for the final.

You couldn't help but feel sorry for Hoff, who, at 15, is the youngest athlete in the entire U.S. delegation and is the only member of the swim team who doesn't have at least one of her parents here. Her face at the end of the race was contorted in pain and agony and, nauseated, she collapsed on the pool deck. Her coach, Paul Yetter, said she was overcome by an Olympic-sized case of nerves.

So much pressure for someone so young. But she will have another chance next week in the 200 individual medley and -- who knows -- maybe in another Olympics or two.

As for Phelps, he is also young, at 19, and if does only as well as Biondi, he might disappear from much of the media radar. But there won't be any criticism from this blogger.


Aug. 13, 2004 7:55 AM ET
Greek tragedies already part of Games' script

In 28 years of covering the Olympics, I have been involved in some bizarre stories, most notably Tonya and Nancy in 1994. I thought I would never again see anything like that.