The 4x100 medley relay which is scheduled to take place on Saturday night at the Rio Olympics 2016 will be the last time Michael Phelps’ large legion of fans will get to see the world’s most decorated Olympian swimming at the mega quadrennial Games. The 27-time medallist has now confirmed to the media that he is not coming back to compete at the 2020 Games even though he will be present to cheer his compatriots on at Tokyo.
The Baltimore Bullet is adamant to stick to his stand despite his friend and rival Ryan Lochte suggesting earlier that he expects to see Phelps at the Japanese capital. Even his three-month old son Boomer Phelps had a cryptic, now-deleted message on his Instagram account which hinted at the legend coming back again.
"Were the papers here, I’d sign them tomorrow"
But the 31-year-old has refuted them all and that is surely a blow to all sports lovers who had the faintest hope of seeing him light up an Olympic pool yet again. Even his fellow swimmers could not coax him into changing his mind. His answer was a vehement no when asked if he would like to think again after a dazzling show at Rio which had so far fetched him four gold and one silver medal.
“Done. (South African co-silver medalist) Chad (Le Clos) asked me in the award area and the Dwyers were chanting ‘four more years’, Phelps admitted.
“They did the same thing in London. The 800 free relay guys said four more years ... No. I am NOT going four more years.
“And I’m standing by that,” he promised, even adding later, “Were the papers here, I’d sign them tomorrow.”
His final individual race – the 100 meter butterfly – saw the great Phelps falling in an astonishing finish where Joseph Schooling of Singapore took the gold while the American was demoted to the second position, tied with Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh. If anyone had thought that defeat would galvanize him into chasing the gold in four years’ time, then he was wrong.
After all, Phelps did change his mind after initially retiring post the 2012 Olympics but reversed it for one last hurrah to reclaim the 200m butterfly gold that Le Clos had snatched from him in London.
Happy phase in personal life
But this time, the circumstances are different. The record 22-time gold medallist is in a happy and content phase in his personal life and is eager to spend time with his family.
“Being able to close the door on this sport how I want to, that’s why I’m happy now,” he said.
“I’m ready to retire. I’m happy about it. I’m in a better state of mind this time than I was four years ago. And yeah. I’m ready to spend some time with (baby son) Boomer and (fiancee) Nicole.”