Michael Phelps, despite his recent peccadilloes, shall always remain a swimming legend. Call Lionel Messi a midget (if you like Cristiano Ronaldo too much) but that won't affect his image as one of the greatest beings to ever kick football. Although there are many who think Usain Bolt needs to tone down his swagger, none of them can beat him at a sprint. Rafael Nadal was born right-handed but his uncle-coach insisted he try playing left-handed. And the exact reserve happened with Sachin Tendulkar. There are no dearth of examples like these men who are way too good at what they do. However, the question is, are they normal?
What precisely is normal? This question is posed knowing Phelps couldn't walk properly as a toddler but swam like a fish when let loose in water. Similarly, Messi relied heavily on injected hormones to lift his body up—literally—as a boy. And Bolt takes 41 strides to complete 100 m while his nearest opponent requires at least 46. He's more of a long-jumping champion who flies during a race. Nadal has no choice but to spin his arm over his head—creating a top-spin that is unmatched in today's fast-paced tennis—every time his racquet makes contact with the ball. Sachin, for all his on-field mastery, can't deny that his switch from southpaw helped him immensely.
So who is normal? Bolt? Or his fellow runners? Phelps or you and me?
We might be able to walk, swim, run, dribble maybe or hit a sixer but what separates us from those gifted athletes is they defined their own normal. Unlike a majority of us.