Michael Phelps accomplished everything he set out to in his Olympic career. He is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, claiming as many gold medals, 18, as the next closest athlete’s total medals. To put that in more perspective, there are only 37 countries that have won more gold medals in the last 100 years than Phelps, who has only had three games to participate in. More importantly, he went out on top, winning four gold medals to close out his London Olympics. For years now, he has claimed that this will be his last Olympics, and he has stuck by that throughout these games. I, for one, think that this is definitely his final games, for a few reasons.
The most important thing is that I think Phelps is simply tired. He has trained his body for the Olympics non stop for over half of his life, and at times this Olympics, he looked like an athlete who was worn out. After winning gold in the 400 Individual Medley in 2004 and 2008, Phelps inexplicably missed the medal stand in the event that started these games for him, marking only the second time in 24 finals that he did not medal. Once he got focused, he looked ready to swim again, and dominated from that point on. But, if only for a moment, he looked tired, and didn’t perform at his best. This is another reason why I think Phelps is done.
Phelps is not the kind of athlete who would half ass an Olympics. He wouldn’t simply train for two or three events in Rio. He would want to train for multiple events, and I don’t think he wants to do that anymore. Phelps grew up idolizing Michael Jordan, and there are many people who only saw Jordan play when he was in Washington, playing as a shell of his former self. I can’t imagine Phelps would want to do the same thing.
The main reason that Jordan came back is because of his competitiveness. Leaving basketball left a void in his personal life that nothing else could fill: not golf, not gambling, not anything. Phelps, on the other hand, is very open about his desire to improve his golf game, and he has also shown a love for poker, as he has played a good amount in Las Vegas. My guess is he will pick this up more, and become a fixture at the WSOP for years to come, using poker as a way to fill that competitive void.
So yes, Phelps is done. He has hung up his suit, and I think last night was the last time we will see Phelps compete. We have been spoiled be able to watch the greatest Olympic athlete in his prime, and I don’t think the general population will really appreciate Phelps until the Summer Olympics in 2016. Phelps single-handedly made swimming in the Olympics relavant again, and there won’t be an athlete like him for a long time, if ever. Thank you Michael Phelps, for everyone you have done, and for being a great ambassador for America on the world’s greatest stage.
What are your thoughts on Phelp’s career? Let us know in the comments!