Phelps signs off in typical style


The end of Swimming in the pool saw the exit of arguably the greatest Olympian in history as Michael Phelps bowed out of the sport having collected 18 gold medals and 22 overall. The 27-year-old started his Olympic Swimming career as a 15-year-old in Sydney in 2000, where the youngster was fifth in the 200m Butterfly.
Six gold and two bronze medals followed in Athens four years later before his historic eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008. His Games in London did not start off so well with fourth place in the 400m Individual Medley – his worst result since Sydney – and he was shocked into second by Chad le Clos in the 200m Butterfly.
However, the Baltimore swimmer won the 100m Butterfly and 200m Individual Medley – where he outgunned team-mate Ryan Lochte – as well as taking the titles in the 4 x 200m Freestyle and Medley Relay and silver in the 4 x 100m Freestyle. Texts and phone calls came from the likes of USA president Barack Obama and last night he was presented with a FINA lifetime achievement award by president Julio Maglione inscribed with the words: ‘To Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. At a packed press conference afterwards, Phelps revealed what he had said to Bob Bowman, who had coached him since the age of 11, when he completed his final warm-up.
Phelps told Bowman: ‘I have looked up to Michael Jordan all my life. He became the best Basketball player there ever was. I’ve been able to become the best swimmer of all time, we got here together. Thank you.’ Phelps now intends to travel and remain heavily involved with his Swimming foundation. Of how he was feeling after his final swim, Phelps said: ‘It’s hard to put into words right now. I did everything I wanted to and finished my career how I wanted to.
‘I’ve always said that I don’t care what anybody else says, if I can say that about my career that’s all that matters.’ While Phelps’s retirement commanded the spotlight, the rest of his USA team-mates enjoyed great success, heading the medal table with 30 medals: 16 golds, eight silver and six bronze, as well as setting five of the nine world records.