Arguably the greatest Olympian to ever compete for the red, white, and blue, Michael Phelps has his sights set on at least seven more individual gold medals to go with the record-setting eight he brought home from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Easily the most popular Olympian of his generation, and among the most admired to ever compete, the 27-year-old swimming phenomenon is expected to once again lead the U.S. Men’s Swim Team to even further Olympic glory.
“We’ve done a lot of cool, amazing, exciting things, and now it’s just time to have fun,” Phelps said. “We’re relaxed. This is just about what size cherry I want to put on top of my sundae.”
No matter what Phelps does in London this year, the 2008 Summer Olympics will serve as the defining moment of this truly gifted athlete’s career. With eight gold medals in eight events that year, it’s hard to not call Phelps the greatest Olympian of all time, and his lifelong coach, Bob Bowman, agrees.
“I don’t think anything he could do or not do will change his legacy,” said Bowman. “He’s the greatest Olympian of all time today and I think he will be after this summer.”
The Baltimore, Maryland native, now a pitchman with his mom for Subway, made the entire world stand up and take notice of his athletic abilities in 2008. After all, it’s one thing to have the mantle of greatness foisted upon you, but until the gold medals are hanging around your neck on the world’s most watched stage, it’s really just marketing. Some athletes never live up to the expectations, but Phelps does not number among them. In fact, he’s in a class all his own.
In early July, Phelps announced he would not be competing in the 200 freestyle, even though he qualified for it. He won Olympic gold in 2008 in this event, but has subsequently lost twice in his last two competitions. By dropping this contest, he’ll only have seven individual competitions in London, giving him more time to focus on the relay events, where he can really help the U.S. team bring home a collection of medals.
Expect Team USA to do very well in London, and for Michael Phelps to play a big role in making the 2012 Olympics one for the ages for the United States of America, giving him a recognizable name throughout the world.