Michael Phelps can confidently walk away knowing he did everything he possibly could in an Olympic pool. Michael has had a historic career where he has won 28 Olympic medals, including 23 shiny gold ones. The 31-year-old superhero earned five gold medals and one silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Michael Phelps was absolutely dominant for over a decade. Chew on this to try to understand how dominant he was. If Michael Phelps was a country, he would be ranked 32nd on the all-time medal count. That means that countries that had participated in numerous events and sports sending multiple athletes over the past 120 years, Michael Phelps beats out over 150 countries in just four Summer Olympics.
He is the greatest Olympic athlete of all-time. There are four Olympic athletes tied for second on the all-time gold medal list and they are gymnast Larisa Latynina, swimmer Mark Spitz, track athletes Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi. They have all won nine gold medals, less than half as many gold medals as Phelps. Latynina is second all-time in total medals with 18, that’s a distant 10 fewer than Phelps.
“I’m happy with how things have finished, that’s why I came back,” Phelps said. “I didn’t want to have a ‘what if’ 20 years later. Being able to close the door on this sport the way I want to, that’s why I’m happy.”
Yesterday, Phelps did a nearly hour-long Facebook Live video, where he answered questions from his fans and explained his feelings going into his final race and what he would do in the future.
However, things are different now, Phelps is a father, and wants and needs to spend time with his family. He has to start training his baby son Boomer to take over the family business of winning Olympic gold medals.
“The other night when he was on FaceTime, he was crying as soon as I called. I started moving the medal around, and his eyes just locked right on it. He’s already eyeing them.”
Phelps hinted that he is not entirely done with swimming.
“I’m just ready for something different,” he told NBC Sports. “My swimming career might be over, but I have the future ahead of me. It’s not the end of a career, [it’s] the beginning of a new journey.”
“This is special because I’m just able to start the next chapter of my life,” Phelps said. “I’m retiring, but I’m not done done with swimming. This is just the start of something new.”
Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman, expects the Olympic great to devote his free time towards his the Michael Phelps Foundation, which attempts to grow the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lives.
A drained, but enthusiastic Phelps said afterward, “This is a cherry on top of the cake that I wanted.”
The best part about Michael Phelps leaving the game is how he went out… like the champion he is. He was part of the U.S. Men’s Team that won gold in the 4×100-meter medley relay. After winning his final gold medal and he was with his teammates, Nathan Adrian, Ryan Murphy and Cody Miller, the national anthem played and he fought back tears because he knew this was the final time that he would hear that triumphant song that he has heard played in his honor 23 other times. Phelps held up a sign that simply said, “Thank you Rio.”
A perfect ending, for the perfect swimmer, and the end of a golden era.
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