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Phelps not only Olympian deserving of praise

Praise Phelps. But let’s not forget the rest.

Ask anyone to name one Olympian, and he or she will most likely talk about the world-record-breaking swimmer.

Michael Phelps is one of the most recognized Olympians of all time, thanks to his amazing winning streak – 14 gold medals, eight of which he won at the 2008 Beijing games. But what about other U.S. athletes who have made it big in this year’s games?

The Phelps-mania has overshadowed other athletes, and surely the media have their focus on him. But other athletes seem to be ignored. The women’s gymnastics team is a close second to the swim star in media attention, but their performances are not praised as much as Phelps’.

The NBC Olympics Web site features a biography of the amazing swimmer, a “Medal Tracker” and a poll about his status as “the greatest American athlete of all time.”

Although the Phelps hype is certainly contagious, I wonder why America has not taken the opportunity to appreciate the other talented athletes such as Vic Wunderle or Eli Bremer. They’re both U.S. Olympians like Phelps, yet, we know so little about them because the media haven’t advertised them like they do Phelps.

As a polo player (yes, the one on horseback) at TCU, I feel negligence of media attention on a regular basis. Polo may be obscure, but you can bet that it takes true athletic ability to play, and the fact that the media don’t give us much credit is annoying. Although our women’s club team won last year’s Regionals and took home 2nd place in the USPA Intercollegiate National Championship, we still suffer the same fate that many U.S. Olympians face this year.

Wunderle defeated the No. 1 archer in the world to advance to the Olympic semi-finals in his sport.

Meanwhile, Bremer competed in the challenging marathon sport, Modern Pentathalon, in an effort to become the first American to win a gold in this event since 1960. Although Bremer only placed 11th in his event, hardly anyone noticed his attempt to break the 48-year curse surrounding a sport that involves fencing, swimming, running, horseback riding and shooting.

However, these Olympians are forgotten by the American public in light of Phelps’ amazing achievements. Even after Phelps and his other three teammates won their last race – the 200 Medley Relay – Brendan Hansen, Aaron Piersol and Jason Lezak were hardly acknowledged by the cameramen and reporters on site. Instead, the media could only focus on Phelps’ final gold medal, regardless of the fact that three other Americans were equally responsible for his success.

In a nutshell, although Phelps surely is fantastic, I believe that our other Olympians deserve some well-earned praise, too.

Kelli Trapnell is a sophomore writing major from Houston.

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