Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all-time: 22 career medals, 18 of them gold. However, Rio will be his swan song.
“It’s crazy to think back that ‘yeah I’m back in the pool again.’ But it’s also kinda not. I think I’m in a different place now and when I say this is my last one, this is my last one,” Phelps said.
Four years ago, after the 2012 games in London, everyone thought Phelps was throwing in the towl.
“I wanted nothing to do with the sport anymore. I was completely finished.” Recounts Phelps. “I was ready to move on and ready to retire.”
For about a year and a half, Michael Phelps did step away from the stage he’d been dominating since he was a teenager.
“I think I was the first person that said he was coming back. In 2012, I knew when I didn’t do it for like two months, I was missing it. So I knew that he would definitely be back ’cause that competitive edge, that instinct, that doesn’t leave your body,” teammate Ryan Lochte said.
In Rio, Phelps has a realistic chance of adding a few more gold medals to his already impressive total.
“His intensity is not something that I can mimic. I don’t think…that’s just not how I’m wired,” three-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian said.
“Swimming with the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers said. “That Olympic medal from the 400-medley relay that I got to be a part of with him, supposedly his last race ever, is one of those things that you tell your grandkids about.”
Ulitmately, Phelps is thankful to have been blessed with the opportunities he’s had up to this point.
“I look back and I see how my life is a dream come true. I’ve been able to have the opportunity to be able to continue what I do and do it well,” Phelps said.
Before Rio Michael Phelps needs to go to Omaha for the Olympic team trials at the end of the June. It’s really just a formality at this point. Even at the age of 30, Michael Phelps owns three world-best times, which he set last year.