“So I’ll move on” says Michael Phelps who informally announced his retirement from competitive swimming at the Olympics after his last race in London recently. He had just won 4 Gold medals and 2 Silvers in the 30th Summer Olympics. Retired at 27? He well could as his record is unlikely to be beaten for a long, long time, if at all. The ace swimmer from Baltimore, Md has won a mind boggling 22 Olympics medals. These include as many as 18 Olympic gold medals in a career that began when he was just 15 at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
To put Phelps’ feat in perspective, just remember that the highest number of individual gold medals at the Olympics till now was 9. The stars who achieved this feat were legends in their own right. They were the US track star, Carl Lewis; the Soviet gymnast Larrisa Latynina; the Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi and Mark Spitz, another American like Phelps and another swimmer too. This feat makes Phelps arguably the greatest Olympian ever. He had won earlier 6 golds in Athens in 2004 and a historic 8 golds in Beijing in 2008. Apart from these 18 golds, he had won 2 Silver medals and 2 Bronze ones, making a total of 22.
I think Phelps acknowledges the huge role played by his coach Bob Bowman who took him under his wings when a he was a mere 11 years old hyperactive kid. Bownman saw the huge potential in the youngster and they became, over the years, an unbeatable pair. It was fitting that Bowman was present to see his ward being presented with a special trophy for being the Greatest Olympian of all time. Some one wryly pointed out that this trophy was in silver and should really have been in gold!
Phelps has not formally announced his retirement but will do so soon, he said. It is a mere formality of signing some papers. The Phelps-Bowman combination will go down in history as one of most successful in the annals of coaching.
I don’t know what you predict but I am sure his record of 18 Olympic Gold medals will never be broken.