London 2012: Officials Deny Olympic Record Holder's Request to Present Michael Phelps His 19th Medal
Larisa Latynina has no hard feelings about Michael Phelps breaking her 48-year-old record as the holder of the most Olympic medals.
In fact, the former Soviet gymnast, who won 18 medals from 1956-64, was in London watching Phelps as he won his record-setting 19th medal Tuesday night by anchoring the 4x200 freestyle relay.
After the race, she asked Olympics officials if she could present Phelps with his history-making medal, but she was denied her request by the International Olympic Committee, her daughter told the New York Times. She said the Olympics rules don't allow for such a move.
Yahoo Sports blogger Chris Chase noted how rigid the IOD board is in its rules, arguing that letting Latynina present the medal would open the floodgates to any number of other former Olympians wanting the same privilege.
But he also criticized the group, who recently declined to observe the 1972 Munich massacre during the Olympics Opening Ceremony and argued that the 40th anniversary of the tragedy had been recognized at other recent events.
"There are exceptions to everything," Chase wrote. "Munich is the worst tragedy in Olympic history. Phelps just broke a 48-year-old record of a woman who was there watching. The IOC makes it difficult to break the rules, even when looking the other way would be so easy."
NBC's Bob Costas also recently criticized the IOC for its decision to deny Israel's request for a moment of silence acknowledging the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games. During NBC's coverage of Friday's Opening Ceremony, he said: "For many, tonight, with the world watching, is the true time and place to remember those who were lost, and how and why they died.”
Meanwhile, Latynina did meet Phelps earlier this year in New York, where she gave him with a medal she had won in a Soviet-American meet in 1962.
“Phelps deserves the record," she told the Times. "He is such a talented sportsman.”
As for seeing her record broken, Latynina said she isn't disappointed.
“Forty-eight years is almost enough time to hold a record," she said, adding with a smile: “Among women, I’m sure I will stay No. 1 for a long time.”