Michael Phelps will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer. But at the age of 31, the competition is about more than medals. Phelps spoke with Reuters at the Under Armour Complex in Baltimore on Thursday. He was promoting a commercial he made for the clothing maker and talked about how different the Michael Phelps we will see in the 2016 Olympics is from the one we saw in 2012 and 2008. Michael has a record total of 18 gold medals. He won four gold and two silver medals in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but Phelps knew he didn’t give it his all and was dissatisfied.
“I look back to 2012 and how I prepared for that and I can tell you it was a joke. It was. I had no passion and wasn’t really too into it. I had no motivation. I think I needed time away from everything — from the sport, from my family, my friends, from every single part of my life.”
In 2014, Michael Phelps was pulled over by a Maryland officer for driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone. Michael failed two sobriety tests, and a breathalyzer put his blood alcohol level at 0.14, way above the legal limit of 0.08. It was Phelps’ second DUI arrest and followed published photos of him smoking a bong. USA Swimming banned Michael for three months. Friends and family had seen him deteriorating. The excessive speed and intoxication level frightened them. Michael entered a 45-day rehabilitation program for his drinking.
He told Sports Illustrated, “It’s probably the most afraid I’ve ever felt in my life. I was in a really dark place, not wanting to be alive anymore.”
Phelps is grateful for the time he’s had to reflect on his life.
“To be able to sit down and just think about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. Who I am, really. And to be able to do that has allowed me to live more free, to be happy with who I am.”
Michael Phelps took the time to examine himself and says he’s proud of how he has turned his life around. There will soon be a Mrs. Phelps. Michael popped the question to girlfriend Nicole Johnson about a year ago and she said yes. They plan to marry this year.
Nicole is pregnant with their first child and is due the end of May.
Phelps says this Olympics is about no regrets. It’s about going out knowing that in his last time out, he gave it his all and did everything he possibly could in order to perform at the highest level he is capable of.
“I never wanted to look back 20 years down the road and say ‘what if I did this differently, what if I did that differently. This is me giving 100 percent. I don’t really know besides 2000 the last time that I gave a hundred, hundred percent. I decided everything I do is going to be (aimed) to retire how I want.”
It’s an attitude that aligns well with the “Rule Yourself” slogan from his new Under Armour commercial.
Michael Phelps was born on June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Fred and Debbie Phelps. He is the youngest of three children. His parents divorced when Michael was 10. When he first began swimming, Phelps was afraid to put his head under the water, and so he learned to do the backstroke first. Michael competed in his first Olympics in 2000 at the age of 15. He was the youngest male swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games in 68 years. Besides his swimming achievements, Michael Phelps has penned two books — Beneath the Surface: My Story in 2008 and No Limits: The Will to Succeed in 2009 — and co-founded a non-profit organization called Swim with the Stars, which holds swimming camps for swimmers of all ages.
[Photo by Jonathan Moore]