In a shocking revelation just on the heels of the Olympic Games in Rio, one of the greatest Olympians Michael Phelps opened up about his troubles with post-retirement life that even got him to contemplate suicide. The 31-year-old American made the revelation to NBC Sports’ primetime Olympic host Bob Costas in an interview aired on Thursday. Phelps discussed his thoughts on his troubled life after 2012 retirement with ESPN as well.
Already one of the most successful Olympians by the 2012 event in London, Phelps added another 4 Gold medals apart from 2 silver medals to his tally before drawing a curtain on his swimming career. The 2012 feat made him the most successful athlete of the Games for the third time in a row. However, tough times were to hit the legend hard. The discipline began to fade away and soon one of the fittest athletes had put on so much weight that made him almost unrecognizable. His weight rose from 187 pounds to 230 pounds and an identity crisis threatened to take over his life as he battled drinking problems and struggled to find a life outside the pool.
The 31-year-old Phelps said he still, "remembers the days locked up in my room, not wanting to talk to anybody, not wanting to see anybody, really not wanting to live. I was on a downward spiral. I was on the express elevator to the bottom floor wherever that might be. And I found it."
Also read: 10 greatest Olympic swimmers of all time
On being asked by Costas whether the thought of suicide crossed his mind ever in those tough times, the swimmer replied, “There were thoughts where I was like, ‘How would I do it?’ But I knew I never could. Because I knew I would hurt so many people. Me included. The thoughts were there. They were there really heavy. I kind of just start making some progress. I just decided something had to change."
Phelps also revealed in the interview that his DUI arrest in 2014, which was his second DUI arrest in 10 years, led to a "downward spiral" that left him feeling the lowest he had ever been. In another interview with ESPN, he revealed the gravity of the problems in greater detail. "I was a train wreck”.
"I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self worth. There were times where I didn't want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost." He added, "I had no self-esteem. No self-worth. I thought the world would just be better off without me. I figured that was the best thing to do -- just end my life."
A stint at rehab followed soon after his DUI arrest where the swimmer interacted with other addicts to find his way out of the troubled times. It was then that Phelps also decided to come out of his retirement and train for the Rio Olympics which he announced in April 2014.
With his massive riches of Olympic medals, its only natural that all eyes are on the American every time he dives into the pool. However, the shocking revelation of hard times and his rise out of them is only going to add to the aura of the most decorated Olympian of all time.