Michael Phelps, the 16-time Olympic medalist, 14 of them gold, and holder of 39 World Records, will retire from the pool following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Phelps informed 60 Minutes’ Anderson Cooper in an interviewed that aired on Sunday, that he will not be seen participating in competitive racing after this final Olympic run. And for those that think that Phelps may find his way back, he says that’s it.
“Once I retire, I’m retiring,” he said on “60 Minutes.” “I’m done.”
It’s not entirely shocking that Phelps would step away at this time. This will be the 4th Olympiad that he will be participating, that means he has been at it for 12 years, now. And that doesn’t take into consideration the years of training that were involved before his first appearance at the 2000 Games in Australia at the age of 15. Swimmers in general burn out at an early age because of the long difficult training that is involved. USSA and highly competitive high school teams will generally have their swimmers training nearly 6 hours a day in the pool, with additional workouts outside of it.
Phelps became an icon in 2008, as he broke Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record of 7 gold medals in one Olympics, by grabbing 8 overall. He fell just short of that goal in 2004, when won 6.
Following the Olympic glory, and winning the Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year, Phelps hit a wall. He struggled to find the fire to train, and had a photo taken of him smoking marijuana at a party. But after some time away, Phelps found himself back doing what he does best, and is set to give us one last hurrah this summer. He isn’t in line for a shot at a repeat performance of Beijing, but still could collect multiple medals, possibly gold, if he swims his very best. One can be sure that one of the greatest living athletes will indeed give us his best last shot.