Michael Phelps – The most decorated Olympian of all time
Winning just one Olympic medal, Bronze Silver or Gold, is a phenomenal achievement. The amount of hard work, dedication and talent needed to even reach an Olympic game is something that only a very small number of people can muster. Winning 28 medals over 5 Olympic games? Only one man has achieved such a feat. ‘The Baltimore Bullet,’ Michael Phelps. Let’s talk about the most decorated Olympic Athlete in existence.
Michael Phelps was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and started swimming at the age of 7. His mum and two sisters were his main influence for getting him into swimming, partly to give him something to use his energy on. He has been quoted saying, ‘The only reason I ever got in the water was my mom wanted me to just learn how to swim. My sisters and myself fell in love with the sport, and we decided to swim.’ I suppose we all should be thankful that his mom wanted him to learn, we have all been treated to swimming ability that is simply out of this world!
When he was 9 years old, Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD, after complaints from his teachers forced his mum to take him to the doctor. His mother was a teacher, so she knew that she had to collaborate with Michael to help him be successful. She said, ‘All kids can fail us at times, but if you work with them, nine times out of 10, they’ll make you proud.’ He certainly did make her proud!
Not one person has been able to match Michael Phelps’s Olympic Success. 23 out of 28 medals were Gold. 3 Silvers, 2 Bronze. He really was the master of competitive swimming, and probably would be again if he came out of retirement for a second time! Furthermore, it wasn’t just one type of swimming event, it was several! It included, the 100 m butterfly, the 200 m butterfly, the 200 m medley, the 400 m medley, 200 m freestyle, 200 m backstroke, the 4×100 m freestyle, the 4×200 m freestyle and finally the 4×100 m medley! For comparison, that’s like Usain Bolt excelling in not only the 100 and 200 metre races, but the 400, 800 and 1000 metre races as well.
In 2004 at the Athens Olympic games, his second Olympic games, Michael would win his first ever Olympic Gold – in the 400 m medley event. He broke his record that was set in the World Championships a year previous, which just so happened to be the world record! A memorable start to winning Olympic medals! He was only 18 years old! Across his career, he would break a grand total of 24 world records, many of which were beating the world record that he set at previous tournaments!
Phelps would retire from swimming after winning an amazing 6 medals at the London Olympics. A retirement that would only last two years. Phelps returned to swimming in 2014 and went on to compete at the most recent Olympic games in Rio De Janeiro. Another 5 Golds and 1 Silver!
At the same games, he was nominated by fellow US Athletes to be the flag bearer in the opening ceremony. Not only that, but he was one of 6 Team Captains for the US Olympic Team. Both of these facts show the influence that he had on his fellow Athletes, and the amount of respect and admiration that they had (and still have) for him.
Being 31 years of age, people doubted Phelps and didn’t think that he would be as successful as he was in previous Olympic games. He proved the doubters wrong, and became the oldest male champion ever. Age is just a number!
Now, Phelps is happily retired. He told Forbes, “I’ve spent decades staring at that black line at the bottom of a pool, I’m ready to do something new. I’m ready to channel my competitiveness into something else.” His new goal? Promoting the Michael Phelps Foundation, a charity with an aim of expanding participation opportunities for swimming. Furthermore, he has recently appeared in Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s version of Baywatch.
Overall, Phelps is a role model for anybody wanting to achieve any goal that they set themselves. From a young age, he loved swimming, and you can’t argue that he is the greatest swimmer ever, and one of the greatest, if not THE greatest Olympic athlete to ever live.