Mark Spitz - 7 Times World record holder
We all had our heroes when we were growing up. Heroes we read about in great epic novels. The stories always dealt with great figures and heroes who did great things against a fearsome foe. Whether they rescued the princess, killed a dragon or rescued a kingdom from its state of misery.
We knew that these were only stories though, and the moment we closed our books they were gone again, back into the realms of dreams. However, if one looks at the Olympics, feats abound which are comparable to the stories we read and dreamed about as children. Unbelievable records have been set and broken from over the course of time.
These are no storybook or fantasy heroes, these feats are very real and are achieved by people just like you and me, people from everyday walks of life. What Mark Spitz achieved in 1972 was one such legend. It was a moment unlike any other, that will always be thought of with admiration awe. These are his accomplishments at the 1972 Munich Olympic games.
Mark Spitz was born in Modesto, California. He finished his studies at Indiana University located in Bloomington, Indiana. While studying at the university, he was interested in and became a member of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity Spitz was a born champion.
He was a master in the art of swimming. In fact, he could swim by the very young age of 2 and by the age of 10, he was recognized as the best 10 and under swimmer in the world.
When he was 16, Spitz won his first AAU National Championship. And the following year he won five gold medals at the 1967 Pan American Games and laid claim to ten world records. Remember, at the time, he was still just 17 years old. Showing great confidence in his ability and talent, Spitz now took on the challenge of the Olympic Games, winning 6 gold medals at the Olympics held in Mexico the next year.
Getting together with his teammates, Spitz began a long endurance training program. The next year, Mark Spitz was ready to show everybody how to win gold medals. However, Mark Spitz and his team mates could only manage to win two titles: the 4 x 100 meter freestyle and the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relays.
Personally, Spitz won a silver in the 100 meter butterfly and a Bronze in the 100 meter freestyle. Having won 4 medals overall, you would expect Spitz to be happy with his performance. However, he was not. I know Its tough for someone to be disappointed with four Olympic medals, but Spitz was. He started on an even more difficult training regimen over the course of the next 4 years. He won nearly every competition on his way to an Olympic return.
While he won these events, he broke and set new world records preparing for the ultimate challenge at the Munich Olympics. He was determined to win the 6 gold medals he had set for himself. Driving himself to new heights and aspirations for achievement, he won the James E Sullivan award in 1971 for being the top amateur athlete in United States of America.
When the Munich games kicked off in 1972, Spitz was ready to back up his claim. He did it in great style indeed. Not only was he able to win 6, but he won 7, a feat not equaled even today. He won each event while setting a world record in each. (the 100 meter freestyle, 200 meter freestyle, 100 meter butterfly, 200 meter butterfly, 4 x 100 meter freestyle, 4 x 200 meter freestyle and the 4 x 100 meter medley).
However, this tremendous achievement was spoiled by the brutal killing of 11 Israelis. In the aftermath, security personnel brought Spitz back to America safely. Since he was Jewish, they believed he may have been at risk.
Spitz was only 22 when he won his gold medals. After the Munich games however, he retired from swimming. For a short time after that, he entered the television show business. Due to his discomfort however he quit in 1974. He was featured in shows like The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and the Dean Martin Show. After that he successfully pursued a career in the real estate business.
In 1991 Spitz tried to make a comeback. He was offered a million dollars by Bud Greenspan for just qualifying for the Barcelona games, but Spitz failed to beat the qualifying limit. The 41 year old Spitz had the heart and fire but that energy was gone. He had to stay content with 11 Olympic Medals which was after all, still a great feat for all time to come.Career Highlights
- 1968 Mexico Olympic Games – Gold (2), Silver, Bronze
- 1972 Munich Olympic Games – Gold (7)