Phelps not interested in copying Beijing feat
OMAHA, Neb. – Michael Phelps did a wise thing Monday: He gave up the chance to compete for another eight Olympic gold medals.
The move will allow him to rest properly at the London Games and have time to recover between races, which is much more important now that he’s 27 years old, his body battered by a dozen years of high-level swimming.
He’s out of an event that might be more loaded than any other, one he certainly could’ve won – never bet against Phelps – but appeared more competitive than his other races.
But perhaps the most compelling reason to
drop the 200-meter freestyle from his program
was not having to race against himself at his final
Eight is retiring.
“We’re not trying to recreate what happened in Beijing,” Phelps told The Associated Press during a hotel interview before he got out of Omaha. “Swimming that many times, it’s just brutal and there’s no need to put myself through that.”
Over the 8 days of swimming in London, Phelps will have four mornings off and only a couple of dreaded doubles: two races in one session. The most difficult will be the night of July 31, when he’s got the finals of the 200 butterfly and 800 freestyle relay. The other comes on Aug. 2 and will be a bit easier: the semifinals of the 100 fly, which he won’t have to swim at top speed in order to advance, and the final of the 200 individual medley.
He could still finish his career with a mind-
boggling 21 Olympic gold medals.
That should be more than enough for the rest of us, but we were so eager to see if he could do the impossible one more time before he fades into retirement.
Seven is enough. More than enough.
With 14 gold medals already in hand, more than any Olympic athlete, it would be totally natural for Phelps to exert more control over his career.
With the 200 free out of the picture, Phelps’ schedule looks more manageable – especially since he admittedly hasn’t trained nearly as hard over the past 4 years as he did leading up to his first three Olympics.
Coach Bob Bowman tried to make up for the lack of training by taking Phelps to the high altitude
of Colorado for 6 weeks leading up the trials. While the results were fine – Phelps won four of his races in Omaha, including two epic duels with Ryan Lochte – but his times weren’t all that impressive, and he appeared to wear down by the end of the meet.
Phelps has never run from a challenge, and it wouldn’t be fair to say that’s what he’s doing now.
But Bowman is a realist, and he’s making the right call to give Phelps his best chance of winning seven gold medals.
Seven is enough.