The Olympic pool was left by Michael Phelps for the last timeAon SaturdayAhaving fulfilled a childhood dream, but it is clear he will not be walking away from the sport that has turned him into a global household name.
Phelps’ swimming career ended with his 23rd gold medal in the 4×100 medley relay medalAon Saturday, which extended his record as the most decorated Olympian of all-time.
“This all started and began with one little dream as a kid that changed the sport of swimming and tried to do something nobody else has ever done,” said Phelps. “And it turned out pretty cool.”
It could have all ended four years ago, for the now 31-year-old American.
After the 2012 London Olympics, which was announced to be last by him, Phelps walked away with not only the regret that he simply went through the motions but like many athletes in retirement, he appeared lost and unprepared.
He talked of becoming a professional golfer but ultimately found himself testing the waters of a swimming comeback and despite some missteps with a drink driving conviction that led to rehab and a suspension, made his fifth Olympic team.
In Rio, where he took his Olympic tally to an astonishing 28 medals — he also won three silvers and two bronze — it was obvious he was not going through the motions at all.
Clearly fatigued, every victory was shared with the shrilling crowd by him and was especially emotional whenever he caught sight of fiancAe Nicole and infant son Boomer in the stands.
“Getting off the bus walking into the poolAtonightAI almost felt myself starting to cry,” said Phelps.
“Last warmup, last time putting on a suit, last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country it’s insane.
“A lot better than it was four years ago, this is how I wanted to finish my career. This was the cherry on top of the cake and looking forward to starting a new chapter.”