It seems like Debbie Phelps finally convinced her son Michael to take her to Rio in 2016. The most decorated Olympian in modern history said after the 2012 Summer Olympics in London that those would be his final games.
Phelps’s mother had tried to convince Michael to go again to the 2o16 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, stating she had always wanted to go to Brazil. Phelps laughed, saying he would take his mother anyway if she really wanted to go.
But it looks like Phelps might give it another go. It was announced Monday that Phelps is going to continue competing in swimming competitions, nearly two years after he announced he was done competing professionally. Phelps will compete in his first event later this month in Arizona.
While it wasn’t announced that Phelps would compete in the 2o16 games, that is the logical conclusion. And it brings yet another great storyline to the best sporting event in the world.
I really hope this isn’t the start of the next Brett Favre or Michael Jordan, announcing their retirement only to come back because they couldn’t give up the game they loved. I hope Phelps is in it for the long haul, never wavering after making the announcement that he is going to compete.
I have loved the Olympic Games, especially the Summer Games, since I was a young kid. But I didn’t become a fanatic about them until the 2008 games in Beijing, China. The reason I became a fan? I watched Michael Phelps make history, in dramatic fashion.
In the summer of 2008, I had just graduated high school. I was bored out of my mind, having done everything I could have possibly wanted to do over summer break, aside from travel with the millions of dollars I didn’t have. All the TV shows were reruns, or reality shows that were boring. I was starved for some entertainment.
That is when the Summer Games came on. The familiar orchestra music and voice of Bob Costas came on, welcoming me to Beijing. Then I heard the story of how Phelps wanted to break the record for the most gold medals in a single Olympic Games, the record held by U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz. He was signed up for eight events. A gold in each would break the record.
Then he kept winning. I still remember having a family get-together on a Sunday. Us guys were watching the Olympics. This particular race was broadcast live, which is something I didn’t enjoy about the games from Russia this February.
Phelps was behind in the last 50 meters. He was slowly gaining on the leader, but it didn’t look like there was enough time to catch him. Then the leader made his final stroke and glided in. But Phelps wouldn’t be denied. He took another half stroke, slamming his hand into the underwater sensor. The results were there right after. A No. 1 came up in Phelps’s lane. He won by a hundredth of a second. The smallest margin there could have been.
The room I was in erupted in cheers. High fives were doled out. American pride was felt.
Four years later, Michael was at it again. We knew he probably couldn’t duplicate what happened in Beijing. But he ended up winning enough medals to become the most decorated Olympian in history. That was also fun to watch.
If he ends up making it to Rio, the question is, what can we expect next? That is always the question with Phelps. What magic does he have left in the tank?
The drama this time is the question of whether a 31-year-old man can go out and compete with teenage and early-20s boys. That will be the storyline. And I will more than likely be glued to my seat once again. Thanks for the memories, Michael. Here’s hoping for a few more.