Final dip for PhelpsLONDON (AP) — For Michael Phelps, this is it. In his mind, there’s no doubt about it. As soon as his hand touches the wall for the final time at the London Olympics, his swimming career is over.
By: Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
LONDON (AP) — For Michael Phelps, this is it. In his mind, there’s no doubt about it. As soon as his hand touches the wall for the final time at the London Olympics, his swimming career is over.
And, really, what’s left to accomplish?
“Enough is enough,” said Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman. “Come on! It’s been a very long road. A great road, no doubt, but I think at some point you have to graduate. He needs to move on to something else.”
What he’s moving on to is still rather vague.
Phelps wants to keep working toward his long-stated goal of turning swimming into a truly mainstream sport, but he’s much better positioned to advance that cause when he’s in the water, rather than on land. He’ll probably look to expand his chain of swim schools, and there will still be plenty of work to do with his sponsors, who aren’t likely to abandon him just because he’s turned in his suit.
Heck, he might turn up in Rio as a television commentator four years from now.
“I’d probably need some help,” he concedes. “I know there are some things you should and shouldn’t do on TV. It would be kind of fun. Maybe call a couple of races.”
Will he be satisfied watching others compete? Can he harness that win-at-all-costs mentality that carried him to gold in Beijing by a thousandth of a second when it seemed certain he was beaten in the 100-meter butterfly?
“I’m competitive in anything that I do,” Phelps said. “I’m sure I’ll pick up another hobby or something else that will keep me occupied for the rest of my life.”
No matter what happens in London, Phelps’ legacy in the pool is largely secure.
He’s won a staggering 14 gold medals, which is five more than the second-best number on the list. He’ll almost surely surpass the mark for most medals overall, coming into these Olympics just two shy of the 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. By any measure, Phelps is the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen, and these games should secure his title at the top of the Olympic heap.
Maybe that’s why he seems to be having a lot more fun in the days leading up to London than he did at Athens or Beijing, where he was under intense pressure to turn in record-breaking performances.
“This is closure,” Phelps said Thursday, sitting beside Bowman in the largest conference room at the Main Press Centre. “Now it’s just a matter of how many toppings I want on my sundae.”