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Games, becoming youngest male swimmer on the U.S. team at age 15. Finishes fifth in his only event, the 200-meter butterfly. 2001 — Becomes the youngest male (15 years, 11 months) to set a world record when he breaks the mark in the 200 fly, and takes the mark even lower at the world championship in Fukuoka, Japan, for the first of 26 long-course world titles. 2003 — Won four events at the world championships in Barcelona and became the only swimmer in history to set world records in different events on the same day. August 2004 — Comes up short in attempt to break Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals, winning six golds and two bronzes at the Athens Olympics. Nevertheless, IOC president Jacques Rogge declares Phelps ‘‘the icon of the games.’’ November 2004 — Arrested for drunken-driving in Maryland at age 19. Pleads guilty to driving while impaired, pays fine and serves probation. 2007 — Joins Spitz as the only swimmer to win seven events at a major international swimming competition during the world championships in Melbourne, Australia. Phelps has a shot at eight victories, but the heavily favored U.S. team is disqualified from the 4x100-medley relay in the preliminaries while Phelps is resting up for the final. 2008 — Surpasses Spitz’s iconic Olympic record with eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, setting seven world records in what is dubbed ‘‘The Great Haul of China.’’ Becomes a major international star, even doing a stint as host of ‘‘Saturday Night Live.’’ 2009 — Suspended for three months by USA Swimming after photo emerges in a British tabloid of him inhaling from a pipe used to smoke marijuana. Phelps apologizes and accepts the penalty. 2011 — Wins four golds at world championships in Shanghai, but is beaten by fellow American Ryan Lochte in their two head-to-head meetings. Lochte is the big star of the meet with five golds. 2012 — Claims four gold medals and two silvers at the London Olympics, which he says will be his final swim meet. Phelps retires with myriad Olympic records, including twice as many golds as anyone else (18) and 22 medals overall, four more than anyone else in any sport. Yesterday saw the end of the one swimming phenomena of the last twenty years. He can sit down and think I have done everything that I have wanted to do. Phelps wanted to retire by the time he was 30, and after London 2012 he is 27 so he can tick that final box. That's in three years, and I don't want to swim for three more years. I have got everything I wanted. I have managed to achieve every single thing." After 20 years, four Olympic Games and six world championships, the competitive career of the greatest swimmer in history has come to an end. Phelps's final event was the men's 4x100m medley relay, a race he watched from the stands when he was a 15-year-old competing at his first Olympics in 2000. Then he was a gawky, goofy kid, his face was painted blue and red, and he had "Team USA" written across his chest. That night, like this, the USA won. As his team-mate Nathan Adrian touched the wall, taking the team home in 3min 29.35sec, almost two seconds ahead of Japan, Phelps broke into a gentle smile. It was not a look that spoke of great joy, or enormous passion. It suggested calm, peaceful, relief. Later, on the podium, he stood back and soaked in the adoring applause of the crowd, the first act in what became a long night of celebration. This gave a symmetry to his career, After this all the swimmers formed a guard of honor and the president of FINA handed out a trophy, which meaning was more than the look of this trophy which looked hideous. Inscribed on this trophy it simply said ―The greatest Olympic athlete of all time". There
will always be some debate on this subject which even Lord Coe has waded in on, who says that the stats claim he is the most successful but not the Greatest. There is a train of thought, when you think back to Hitlers Olympics back in 1936 many believe the winner of the 100m then was the greatest or even the like Sir Steve Regrave Phelps last victory took his tally to 22 medals, 18 Gold 2 Silver and 2 Bronze. With his medal haul, you compare Michael Phelps to countries rather than individuals. Phelps st appears on IOC medal table in 41 place ranking him above 162 other countries. The other feats that Phelps has achieved include 33 world Championships medals and 36 world records, I hear the cry that he has had more races to enter so more medal chances. Yes I would concur with that view. But on the otherside of this is that he has less recovery time so he takes more risk; and the fact that he swim any stroke in world leading time and you only have to look at the number of times he has swum in the 4x100m IM where has swum Fly; Free; Breast and Back. Not only that but he has mastered them all. On top of that, when each swimming event starts there are 40 competitors all wanting to beat him. His different events are as different from the Long Jump to the Marathon or the walk, but he has mastered all of his. Phelps career began when he was 7 years old when as it has been well documented that he was scared of putting his face in the water so he took up backstroke. Phelps career took on significance in 1996 when Phelps was 11. As well as the coach that was behind him Phelps had a loving family, and it was that family that told him what he needed to do to get to London 2012, as would he have been here as he said he had lost his mojo. Phelps just did not seem to be himself, not training well or properly. But he kept going and the added incentive was that he was making this his last event helped no doubt. Behind every great sportsman and Olympian is a coach or mentor and for Phelps it was Bob Bowman.In the early stages he heled Michael control his ADHD. Phelps career did not have a Blueprint that he wanted to follow, other than that he wanted to inspire a generation and to make a difference in the sport of swimming by raising the bar of expectancy. Bob set about seeing how Phelps could participate in multi disciplined events. To this end he spoke to Ian Thorpe coach They talked about warm-ups and recovery and massage, elements that became part of Phelps’s racing routine. Bowman has since shared tips with Franklin’s coach, Todd Schmitz, on maximizing performance in multiple events. It is because of Phelps that swimmers like Franklin think nothing of taking an ice bath to expedite their recovery. One of the abiding memories for me from the London 2012 games is Phelps showing his human side as he has let his guard down. This is due to this being his last big meet, but also a measure of the person he is. Phelps has been moved to tears as he has heard how Chad Le Cross, who beat him in his event (200m Fly) that he has won gold at every Olympics and World Champs since 2001, is his hero. The only reason Chad is swimming in the IM and 200 free is because of Michael Phelps. Phelps was moved to tears because he has achieved what he wanted to inspire another generation. Phelps took Chad in hand and showed him what to do after he beat him in the event. Phelps posed for photos with Chad; showed him where to go; what to do, but never tried to overshadow him. Phelps also has been very open about not being aware of who Marc Spitz was or gymnast Larisa Latynina, who reigned for nearly five decades as the most decorated Olympian, with 18 medals, which has made him seem very normal. At these Olympics Phelps has been frank at the interviews after the races freely admitting he is only competing for fun. The legacy that Phelps has left behind for the Swimming team of USA looks very promising and world wide. Individual USA events you have Missey Franklin whose 17; Ledecky 15 years old; Lochte and other who can take the mantle on. Will there be any other athlete who can dominate the swimming world such as Michael Phelps. No is the answer not in our life time. Take a bow Michael Phelps and exit stage right you have inspired a generation and improved swimming stature.
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