Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, is coming out of retirement for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
After claiming he was retiring after the 2012 Olympics in London, the 30-year-old swimmer has resumed training in hopes of extending his already expansive collection of triumphs. Phelps currently possesses 22 medals, 18 of which are gold.
It’s kind of odd seeing Phelps return for another Olympics, especially after treating the 2012 Olympics in London as his farewell tour of sorts. In a way, it almost gives me a happy, nostalgic feeling seeing him return. When you think about it, it’s as though Phelps has been present for practically every Olympics that current Fordham students have been alive for.
Phelps’ first appearance was at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, when he was a young 15-year-old. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of Fordham’s undergraduates would say that the 2000 Games in Sydney are the first Summer Olympics in the memory banks. From this perspective, an Olympics without Phelps is an odd notion.
The celebrated American athlete, known affectionately as the “Baltimore Bullet,” has not enjoyed a squeaky-clean reputation, despite his successes and popularity. In 2009, photos surfaced of Phelps smoking marijuana. Five years later, Phelps was again in trouble with the law and with his fan base when he was arrested in Baltimore for driving under the influence. At that time, the Olympian entered a six-week program to help him with his addiction.
Despite these moments when Phelps lacked better judgment, it seems that the swimmer’s reputation has not been stained as much as it could have been. It appears that his admission to drug use and willingness to seek help has helped him save face.
There is some excitement and anticipation to see how the Baltimore native will fare in Rio this summer, and many are making a story out of the fact that Phelps will be 30 and participating in his fifth Olympic Games. However, Phelps is still not the oldest member on the team. Relay partner and fellow gold medalist Ryan Lochte is 32 years old and participating in his fourth summer games.
Phelps told the press that he is 30 years old and swimming almost faster than ever. He still holds the world records in the 100 and 200 meter butterfly, the 400 meter individual medley, and the 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays. It will be interesting to see if the tenacious American will give the young guns of the world a challenge or if he’s just there to steal some of the spotlight.
The most-decorated Olympian ever is unyielding in his convictions that this will be his last Olympic Games, but then again, that’s what he said four years ago. Time will only tell if the aging swimmer will be on the 2020 roster.