Rio Athlete Spotlight: Michael Phelps
Phelps will enter the 2016 Rio Olympics as the most decorated athlete to ever compete. Will he continue his winning legacy?
Phelps is no stranger to victory. With 18 Olympic golds and 22 total medals, Phelps’ trophy case looks claustrophobic. Phelps had an incredible ’08 year taking home eight gold medals, five of which were in individual races. Phelps holds the record for fastest 100-meter butterfly, 200 meter butterfly and the 400 meter medley. He has won over 75 total medals in competitions across the world. After his success in ’08, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation which helps promote the sport of swimming and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. His success on the international stage has earned him seven World Swimmer of the Year Awards, and his domestic accomplishments led to nine American Swimmer of the Year Awards. Phelps retired after the 2012 Olympics but decided to come out of retirement in 2014 in order to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Phelps is a Baltimore native and the youngest of three children from parents Deborah and Michael. Phelps’ swimming career started at age seven. It was a way for him to hang with his older sisters while releasing some of his stored up energy. At age 10, he was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The same year, he broke the national record for his age group and began training under coach Bob Bowman at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
His success continued through his teen years. When Phelps was only 15 years old, he qualified for the Summer Olympics as the youngest American to qualify in 68 years. Although Phelps didn’t win a medal, he finished 5th in the finals of the 200 meter butterfly. To qualify for the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships, Phelps set a world record in the 200 meter individual medley. At the competition itself, hosted in Yokohama, Japan, Phelps won three gold medals and two silvers. Phelps and his teammates set the world record in the medley relay, Phelps swam a 51.1 split, a world record at the time.
By the time the 2004 Olympic trials rolled around, Phelps had expanded his arsenal of competitions. He became the first American to qualify for six separate individual events. Phelps won his first Olympic gold medal in Athens in the 400 meter medley. Phelps, along with his relay teammates, broke more than five Olympic records that year. After Phelps defeated American teammate Ian Crocker in the 100 meter butterfly, he allowed Crocker to take his spot on the medley relay, which the American team won with a world record time. After the competition, Michael walked home with the second-best all time performance at a summer Olympics with six gold medals and two bronze.
Phelps’ legacy continued through the 2008 and 2012 Olympics where he became the all-time most decorated Olympic Athlete. To win his seventh medal, and to tie the record for most individual gold medals at an Olympic competition, Phelps edged out Serbian rival Cavic by .01 of a second. On August 17th, Phelps won his eighth gold medal in the 4*100 meter medley relay and set the record for most individual gold medals at a single Olympic Games. Needless to say, his legacy will exist as long as the Olympic Games continue.
Phelps won all three of his trials to qualify for the 2016 games. The events he will compete in are the 200 meter butterfly, the 200 meter medley and the 100 meter butterfly. This made him the first American swimmer to qualify for a fifth Olympics. His swimming competitions will take place from August 6-8th.