This is how Michael Phelps summed it up after having blown the competition right out of the water and set his eyes on some more World Records at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. At 6' 4", Phelps certainly towers over most people his age, both in terms of height and stature. In just 27 years, this young lad from Baltimore, Maryland, has achieved more than what his peers and even the greatest sportsmen of all time would not even have dreamed of - 8 Golds in a single Olympics! And, as he has showed with his performance in the latest edition of the meet of the nations (London Olympics 2012), he is far from done! Here's a looking back at his epic journey to the top.
♠ Quick Facts ♠
Name: Michael Fred Phelps II
Nickname: MP, Baltimore Bullet, Gomer
Country: United States of America
Born: June 30, 1985
Place of Birth: Towson, Maryland
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 194 lbs (88 kg)
Strokes: Backstroke, butterfly, freestyle, individual medley
- Michael trains 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, and consumes a massive 12,000 calories/day to sustain himself.
- To keep himself in top shape, he has an ice-cold bath, and sleeps in a special high altitude chamber to tune his body for the extremely high pressure levels that he is subjected to, while swimming.
- His shoe size is 14!
- His ankles move so freely that they extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer!
The youngest amongst the Phelps', Michael was born to Michael Fred Phelps and Deborah Sue Phelps. His father, Michael Phelps Senior, was a state trooper and his mother "Debbie" was a middle-school principal. His parents got divorced when he was just 9 years old, and Gomer, as his teammates called him, has been very attached to his mother ever since. His sisters Hilary and Whitney are swimmers, too, and in fact, watching them swim is what got Michael to take to the water. Around the time when his parents got divorced, Michael was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). This was another reason for his introduction to swimming, where he could put all his pent-up energy to good use. He instantly took to the water, although initially he wasn't all too comfortable with the idea of putting his head under water, so he would float around for hours together on his back. He soon got used to the water, and in fact, mastered the complex butterfly stroke, one of the most lethal weapons in his arsenal today.
Michael was greatly inspired by swimmers Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan, as they fought it out for top honors at the 1996 Summer Olympics. At age 11, he joined the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, and his potential was soon discovered by Bob Bowman, who has mentored him ever since. With unusually long arms and feet, he was most definitely a water baby, born to swim.
At age 27, and possibly having little else left to achieve in the sport (having most conceivable and many other inconceivable records to his name), Michael Fred Phelps hung up his goggles after becoming the most successful swimmer at the games for the third time running at the London Olympics 2012. This was also influenced by his 'poor' showing (by Phelps own standards) in the preceding year. Bowing out in style, he bagged the gold in the 100 m butterfly, with a time of 51.21, in the 200 m individual medley (1:54.27), and also the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay. He also pocketed the silver in the 4 × 100 m freestyle, and for the first time since the medals started rolling at the Olympics in Athens, he has had to settle for the second place, in an event that he had made his own, the 200 m butterfly. Taking center stage for the last time in competitive swimming, he once again was instrumental in bagging the gold for his country in the 4×100 m medley relay, a perfect parting gift for his dedication to the sport for over 12 years. As he graced the podium for the last time, he was greeted with a rousing ovation by the crowd at the grand London Aquatics Center. He was understandably emotional, as he waved goodbye to the crowds, who over the years have come to worship this incredible sportsman. He was later honored by the international swimming federation, FINA, for becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time. To add to his expansive list of records, he now holds the distinction of being the only player in history to have won a gold in the same event for 3 consecutive Olympics (100 m butterfly). He has been unbeaten in it since the 2007 World Aquatic Championships.
|100 m butterfly||51.21|
|200 m individual medley||1:54.27|
|4×100 m freestyle relay||3:10.38|
|4×200 m freestyle relay||6:59.70|
|200 m butterfly||1:53.01|
|4×100 m medley relay||3:29.35|
|1985||Michael Fred Phelps II was born|
|1992||Took up swimming|
|1994||Is diagnosed with ADHD|
|1995||Held the national record for his age group in swimming|
|1999||Took part in a national event for the first time (Junior Nationals)|
|2000||Became the youngest Olympic swimmer ever to represent the United States|
|2001||Became the youngest (15 yrs 11 months) man ever to set a swimming World Record (200 m butterfly) at the Trials for the World Aquatics Championships|
|2001||Won his first international gold at the World Aquatics Championships (200 m butterfly)|
|2003||Won the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award|
|2004||Won his first Olympic Gold (400 m individual medley)|
|2004||Won 6 Gold and 2 Bronze medals at the Olympics|
|2005||Has a street named Michael Phelps Street in his honor in his hometown, Baltimore|
|2007||Set yet another record by becoming the only male swimmer to have set two world records in two different events on the same day|
|2008||Won 8 Olympic Golds and broke Mark Spitz' world record for the maximum golds in a single Olympic Games|
|2008||Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year|
|2009||Sets the last record of his career - ends with a world record of 39 "world records" (29 individual, 10 relay), the most by any swimmer ever|
|2012||Won his 18th gold medal, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals in total; finished with a medal tally of 4 gold and 2 silver medals in his fourth Olympics|
|2012||Retired from competitive swimming|
- Phelps is still very much a lone wolf as he hasn't found a mermaid to keep up with his rigorous training routine.
- Apart from his relentless training, he owes his phenomenal success to a body, which is quite literally built for swimming. In comparison to other swimmers, he isn't unusually tall, but what makes all the difference is the fact that unlike most humans who have an arm span proportional to their height, Phelps' arms extend to about 3 inches more than this height. This, along with broad shoulders, a small torso and short legs, make him a real force to reckon with.
- After his retirement, Phelps who is known for his philanthropy, intends to work closer with his foundation, Michael Phelps Foundation, which focuses on encouraging swimming amongst children, and in turn, helps them lead a healthier life. He is also actively involved in various charities, and is a motivational speaker for children as well.
- He co-starred in a documentary about swimming, titled 'Unfiltered'.
- He has co-authored his biography, "Michael Phelps: Beneath the Surface", and has published his autobiography, "No Limits".
- After his retirement, Phelps intends to take up golfing (watch out Mr. Woods!).
- He loves to listen to rap and hip-hop music (always listens to it before an event) and his favorite movie is 'Austin Powers'.
This legend of the game is often touted to be the greatest sportsman of all time. While there is little doubt about his outstanding contribution to the world of sports, he has in the past been involved in a fair bit of controversy. Guess those are the few things that remind us that this demigod is still part human!