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An embodiment of the Olympic ideal, Michael Phelps saved the Games

Updated: August 17, 2008, 2:48 PM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

BEIJING -- According to archaeologists and historians, mankind has been working at this organized sports business since roughly 4000 B.C. Some think the Chinese might have started the whole thing.

Sunday morning in the putative birthplace of sports, we saw the endeavor elevated to a new plane by Michael Phelps. We witnessed the apotheosis of the athlete -- 6,000 years in the making; 30 minutes, 51.68 seconds in the perfecting.

That's the combined length of time Phelps ...

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