As Michael Phelps toed the line, he did his customary pre-event backslap, his 6’7” wingspan rivaling that of a pterodactyl. He flapped his arms about his chest to the sheer delight of a packed house, while his focus remained unmoved. Only on this day, Phelps was staring down a different opponent than he had faced so many times before in the pool.
The man he was staring at was a great athlete with his own impressive wingspan, former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Two of the best athletes in the world were competing again. Only this time, it was in pickleball.
This scene played out at the PPA Tour event earlier this year in Phoenix, Ariz. Fitzgerald and Phelps played doubles, pairing with top pickleball pros. Fitzgerald, the local favorite, showed great skills, skying high to hit winning overheads. Phelps, more of a novice to the game, battled hard to the joy of the crowd.