Michael Phelps participated in five Olympic games in his 25 years of swimming competitively. In that duration, he won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold, and established himself as the most decorated athlete in history.
He made the US Team for his first Games in 2000 when he was just 15 years old. However, he failed to finish on the podium, going home with just a fifth place certificate in the 200-meter butterfly.
Michael Phelps on how he transformed his legacy
Speaking in front of a crowd of athletes at the University of Alabama, Michael Phelps gave a glimpse of his extraordinary career. According to the swimming G.O.A.T., one quote sums up his journey to an illustrious career. “Actions speak louder than words. That literally is what defines my career,” he opened.
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Phelps detailed how he competed at his first Olympics in Sydney as a 15-year-old and came home empty-handed. And this loss became the reason he strived to become the best of the best. “They gave me a piece of paper that said, ‘Congratulations, you participated.’ That piece of paper motivated me that whole next four years,” he explained.
“I said, ‘There’s not a shot in hell this is ever going to happen again.’” Phelps posed a question to the room full of football players. “From 2002 to 2008, guess how many days I took off.” The answer proved quite simple. “None. Zero,” he stated. In the six years leading up to the Beijing Olympics, Phelps worked tirelessly to improve his form and performance.
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“I was willing to do more than anybody else on the planet was willing to do. I got the results,” he continued. At the 2008 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps broke the record for most gold medals won in a single Games. He bagged eight titles, seven of them set in world record-breaking times.
Phelps left behind an unattainable legacy
In 2016, after the Rio Olympics, Michael Phelps retired from competitive swimming. He had made the same decision earlier, after his 2012 London medal haul, but he returned to competition in 2014. All because he felt he had unfinished business in the pool.
Swimming – Olympics: Day 7 Michael Phelps of the United States dives in at the start of the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final during the swimming competition at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
He came back to reclaim the 200 meters butterfly title he lost in 2012. And finally, he went out on his terms. “I really wanted that one back,” said Phelps. “That event was kind of my bread and butter. That was the last time I’ll ever swim it.” With that out of the way, Phelps retired with a total of 94 medals in international competitions.
He won several awards and accolades for his achievements and recently became an inductee of the US Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame. Concluding the Rio Olympics, he finally retired to spend time with his family; his three sons and wife, Nicole Phelps.
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The post “More Than Anybody Else on the Planet”: Michael Phelps Reveals How a Piece of Paper Changed His Swimming Career appeared first on EssentiallySports.