While Michael Phelps has assured fans that he is moving on after the 2016 games in Rio, some fans still believe that he will return to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
According to USA Today, Phelps’ teammate, Ryan Lochte, is confident that the 23-time gold medalist will be back in action in 2020.
“I guarantee he will be there,” Lochte shared during an appearance on the Today Show. “I think so. I really think so. So Michael, I’ll see you in Tokyo.”
Lochte has been by Phelps’ side for the previous four Olympics.
Phelps told fans after winning his 23rd gold medal that he is ready to move on, even adding on the Today Show that “this time I mean it.”
But his mom, Debbie, thinks Phelps should return to the pool in four years.
“That would be wonderful,” Debbie stated. “I already have the race picked out.”
Despite the positive feedback from friends and family, Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, was less certain about his future in the games.
Phelps currently holds 23 gold medals and 27 total medals. He has a chance to add to that record total this weekend.
“I just don’t see it happening,” Bowman admitted. “He’s in such a good place personally. He doesn’t need it.”
Phelps originally retired after the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Two years later he announced his comeback.
Despite Lochte’s “guarantee,” Phelps still claims he is “ready to retire” after Rio, according to AOL.com.
After Michael Phelps announced his first retirement, Lochte was skeptical that Phelps could stay away from the sport.
“I think he will come back,” he said back in 2012. “He’s still young. I think he will be back for Rio. We’ll see, he’ll miss the sport.”
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports is reporting that Lochte also discussed Phelps influence on his career and the rivalry that has developed over the years.
“Yes, you could definitely say that,” Lochte said. “Definitely an inspiration with what he’s accomplished in the sport. He brings the best out of me. The rivalry we’re created — and that friendship — I’m definitely going to cherish it for the rest of my life.”
Phelps and Lochte went head to head Thursday night for the 200-meter individual medley.
Lochte came in fifth place, while Phelps took home his 22nd gold medal.
“Last night was the last time @m_phelps00 and I competed against each other on US soil! It’s been an amazing journey so far swimming with and against you, but our journey isn’t over yet!” he wrote alongside the image.
As far as Lochte’s future is concerned, he isn’t sure if Rio will be his final Olympics.
“Day in and day out and beating up your body, it takes a toll,” he shared. “And being at the age I am now, it’s definitely time that I need a break. But I can’t say it’s over.”
Lochte has won 6 gold medals and 12 total.
Even if Rio is Phelps’ last time in the pool, his comeback has been an inspiring story to watch unfold.
As fans will recall, Phelps hit a rough patch after the London Olympics and was even arrested for a DUI.
According to People, Phelps fiancee, Nicole Johnson, is thrilled at how things have turned out.
“I watched it firsthand,” she told the outlet. “The training, the dedication, the downside and coming back from all of that, it’s really cool. I’m kind of speechless over all of it.”
Phelps and Johnson recently had their first child together in May.
“It’s amazing and to be able to share it with Boomer — even though he won’t remember outside of all the pictures all the videos — it’s really neat,” she concluded.
Tell us! Do you want to see Michael Phelps compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo? Let us know in the comments below.
[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]