For the USA the 2008 Olympics meant two things, the return to basketball dominance and the insane accomplishments of Michael Phelps. And as much as basketball swept the nation because of its popularity it was hard for anyone to not watch the pool. Phelps captivatity an entire country before, during, and even after the Olympics.
But the Jewish story was the success of his teammate Jason Lezak and female swimmer Dara Torres. Both were the oldest swimmers on their teams, but that didn’t stop them from coming home with medals. Lezak won gold in the 4X 100 freestyle relay and his team set a new world record. Lezak stood out is in the final leg he took the lead from the French. It was an amazing race. He was took home a bronze in the 100m freestyle.
Torres won three silver medals (50m freestyle, 4×100 medley relay, and 4×100 freestyle relay). She added these medals to her already large trophy case, having won 9 medals before the 2008 Olympics including four gold medals. 2008 was her 5th Olympic games dating back to 1984. She did not race in 1996 or in 2004.
Together they made quiet the splash into mainstream culture. Maybe on the same level as this story was the fact that Lezak missed 2009 World Aquatics Championships to compete in the 18th Maccabiah Games in Israel. Lezak was given the honor of lighting the Maccabiah torch at the Opening Ceremony. He came home with four gold medals.
These two truly brought Jewish Americans a lot of pride. They come in as story #4 of the decade.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
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