“I haven’t had a perfect career, but I’ve overcome obstacles and haven’t let anything stand in my way.”
During the 2012 U.S. Olympic swim trials this week, Michael Phelps and fellow countryman Ryan Lochte battled it out in the pool, each winning different races as they continue with the trials. Phelps just barely beat Lochte in the 200-meter freestyle finals Wednesday night, while Lochte won the 400 meter individual medley earlier in the week. The two will meet again on Friday, June 29, for the 200 meter individual medley.
“I feel old,”’ the 26-year-old Phelps said. “Just getting in the water to race is what motivates me.’”
Phelps, USA Swimming’s golden boy, recently told Anderson Cooper during a “60 Minutes” interview that he’ll make one more run for Olympic gold at the 2012 Summer Games in London – but after that he’s hanging up his Speedo.
Phelps, who first entered the world stage during the 2000 Summer Olympics at the age of 15, became the youngest male to make the US Olympic swim team in almost a century. He went on to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, winning a combined total of 14 gold medals.
In 2009, Phelps took an extended hiatus from the sport of swimming as he grew tired and bored of the endless practices, workouts and competitions. But nearly three years later, Phelps has rediscovered his passion just in time to compete in London.
“I’m starting to feel passion back that I had,” Phelps told fans during a live video chat, hosted by VISA on May 9, 2012. ”I’ve had a rocky time over last couple years; swimming just wasn’t fun for me anymore. But I thought about everything he still wants to accomplish. I literally woke up one morning and it just clicked. I was ready, excited and I felt like the old me.”
The chat, streamed on Facebook, gave his fans the opportunity to ask Phelps about the upcoming Olympic Games, his preparations and his plans after retirement. Below are a few questions asked and his answers:
Is mental training important? “I think it is. For me growing up, I always visualized,” Phelps said. “I like to prepare myself for anything. That way, I’m able to relax and do what I’ve trained to do.”
His favorite event? “It’s hard to say that just one event is my favorite,” he said. “I really just enjoy racing, being able to get in the water with athletes from all over the world and compete with the best.”
If he could meet anyone, who would it be? “Michael Jordan has always been someone i want to meet,” Phelps said definitively. “What he did for sport of basketball is what I always wanted to do for the sport of swimming.”
Most important thing he will take away from his career? “Being able to represent your country – that is pretty special.”