Michael Phelps enjoying post-retirement life, and doesn't want to be asked the 'Tokyo' question
The most-decorated Olympian of all time said that he hates losing more than he loves winning.
“Don’t ask me that question,” he laughs and tells a star-struck audience in New Delhi, where he recently launched sports brand Under Armour – with whom he’s had a decade-long association.
The thunderous applause and loud cheers that greeted the former swimmer at the South Delhi mall, where he joined the brand’s founder and CEO Kevin Plank and President and COO Patrik Frisk at the launch, are proof of his stardom - even in a country where professional swimming doesn’t rank very high on the popularity chart.
Talking about his not-always-easy journey, Phelps said that he too has been out of shape before a competition. “I was not in my best form at the 2012 London Olympics,” the American swimmer, who had opened up about his battle with depression after the games, revealed. The icon had announced his retirement then, but returned to the sport in 2016 at Rio.
While London, where he won four gold and two silver medals, wasn’t his best form, Phelps says it’s not possible for him to choose between Beijing (when he won a staggering 8 gold medals) or Rio as his favourite.
“They were two completely different Olympics and it’s hard to pick.
“I can’t say that 2008 wasn’t the greatest, but also the moments and memories that came from going back to Rio and competing – that climb up the mountain was an enjoyable ride for me. I loved both of them very much,” the father-of -two (baby no. 3 is on the way), said.
But none of it came easy. Phelps says he trained every day of the week because ‘in swimming, if you miss one day, it takes two days to get back’.
“I spent six years straight not missing a single day of training. I was getting so much more benefit out of that than other athletes who were swimming for 6 days,” he said, adding that he hates losing more than he loves winning.
It was the determination of not letting anything come in the way of him achieving his dream that kept him going.
“Never give up is kind of what defines my career in a nutshell.” And that’s the advice he doles out to aspiring athletes too.
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However, having accomplished all that he wanted to in the swimming world, Phelps is now concentrating on the next chapter of his life. “I’m focusing on issues that are very near and dear to my heart - a healthy, active lifestyle, water safety, and broadening the mental health discussion.
“These are the things that get me excited to get out of bed every day.”