Michael Phelps’s name will forever be mentioned when it comes to greatness in sports. His achievements have been extraordinary and his struggles have been well documented too. Ever since the American announced his return from retirement in 2014, the spotlight has shifted back on one of the greatest sportsmen to have ever lived:
STREWN WITH RECORDS
Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with a whopping 22 medals to his name of which 18 were yellow in colour over three Olympics. Eight of those came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won golds in all the races he competed in. A 7-time World Swimmer of the Year award winner, he set an unprecedented 39 records in his career. Seven of those still stand, with three of those coming in the 100m and 200m Butterfly and one in 400m in Individual Medley. The other four are all team records. He won a total of 77 medals, including 61 golds in major international tournaments like the Olympics, World Aquatics Championships and the Pan-Pacific Championships.
Unfortunately, there have been a few controversies that he has been involved in throughout his life. He was arrested for drunk driving back in 2004 when he was just 19 which led to an 18-month probation and community service. In 2009, a picture of him with a glass pipe did the rounds and was authenticated by Phelps himself. He publicly apologized and even served a three-month suspension by USA Swimming. Things got out of hand in 2014 when Phelps was once again arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol which led to a six-month suspension and a non-selection for the 2015 World Aquatics Championships. He subsequently checked into rehabilitation for the drinking problem that threatened to consume his entire life.
Michael Phelps retired after the 2012 Olympics and two years later, announced his decision to return to the sport. His arrest in 2014, followed by suspension and rehab seemed to have thrown his preparations out of gear. Along with his age, he will be 30 during Rio 2016, there were concerns over physical fitness and also his mental state. But, the rehab did a world of good to him, coming to terms with his fame and the inability to get over the disappointment of his parents’ divorce 20 years ago which led to a strained relationship with his father. Joining forces once again with long-time coach Bob Bowman, Phelps feels he is in a better place today than he ever was and has been taking great strides in training.
In the latter part of 2015, he won gold medals in the US National Championships in the 100m and 200m Butterfly and the 200m Individual Medley. His times in each of those events bettered those set by winners in the World Aquatics Championships. He followed it up with golds in the same categories in December 2015 in the Winter Nationals. The signs are ominous and the rest of the world are waiting with bated breath for the greatest Olympic athlete ever, to put on a grand show once again!