Michael Phelps crushes comeback rumours

Michael Phelps crushes comeback rumours

When Michael Phelps walked into the press room at the Aquatics Centre on Saturday August 4, 2012, he left no-one in any doubt that his decision to retire was final.

Phelps had always insisted he did not want to be swimming competitively at the age of 30 and at 27 in London, he insisted his career was over.

However, whispers of a comeback have grown louder with word on poolside to expect the Baltimore athlete to return.

Former team-mate and 11-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte has been vocal for some time that will happen, happy to admit last week he missed their duels.

Phelps has been in Barcelona this week for the World Championships and when asked, an exasperated-looking Phelps told Press Association Sport: “Ryan keeps saying stuff.”

However, his denial was hardly unequivocal.

“If anybody would know about me coming back it would be myself and I haven’t said one thing to anybody about anything,” he said.

“It’s just everybody else that is opening their mouth and trying to put me back in front of everything.

“But I’m here watching it, here enjoying myself.

“I enjoy playing golf, I enjoy waking up at noon every day – it’s a good life.”

The 28-year-old was speaking at a Speedo swim clinic where he passed on tips to journalists.

He was forced to stay on poolside wearing a protective boot after sustaining a stress fracture to a toe when he hit it on a sofa and then made it worse by walking 20 miles while playing four rounds of golf.

When pointed out it was hardly conducive to heavy training, Phelps shrugged and said “exactly!”

Also on poolside was three-time Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband with only Ian Thorpe of the main protagonists in the ’Race of the Century’ at the 2004 Olympics missing.

Van Den Hoogenband had shocked Australia with victory over Thorpe in the 200m freestyle at the 2000 Olympics.

Four years later the pair were reunited in Athens where they were joined by a teenage Phelps.

Ultimately, Thorpe took victory with Van Den Hoogenband second and Phelps third, his last defeat over the distance at global competition until the 2009 worlds.

Thorpe was a big influence on the young Phelps.

He said: “If you think about what he did, (how he took things into) different territory, how he incorporated underwater dolphin kicking into freestyle: we never saw that until he did it.

“I remember watching a bunch of his races as a kid and seeing how he did things and how he handled himself.”

Fast forward to 2012 and Phelps’ final 200m butterfly race where young pretender Chad Le Clos out-touched his idol at the wall to send both himself and his father Bert into emotional overtures.

Phelps’ initial disdain at the time was evident but he laughed when asked about it.

He said: “I was speaking to Pieter about this last night and I guess I’d take that loss for the 100th of a second win that I had against Milorad Cavic in 08 (Beijing Olympics where he won eight golds).

“I’d rather be on that side of the wind: not winning that and then winning the 200 fly in London? Sure it would have been nice to win that and go out with that being my last 200 fly win.

“But I know that is how I prepared myself to swim and the results I had when I prepared myself and I was okay dealing with those consequences.

“I had put the amount of training in to get second and not first.

“He probably worked harder than I did and he deserved it more.”

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