The most decorated Olympian:
Michael Phelps is set to return to the competitive arena after a gap of nearly three years. This world champion responsible for popularizing swimming as professional sport across the world hails from Baltimore, USA and is easily the fastest all rounder swimmer the world has ever seen. His medal haul (read 22 Olympic medals, 18 gold, 4 silver) has surpassed the feats of all swimming greats like Ian Thorpe or even Mark Spitz. He currently holds 39 world records (29 individual and 10 relay).
Source: Rob Schumacher, USA TODAY
Controversy’s Child, Set To Compete Again:
To the delight of his ardent fans, he is gearing up to compete at Rio Olympics 2016. He had earlier announced his decision to retire from professional swimming after the culmination of his London Olympics campaign wherein he hauled 4 gold and 2 silver medals. He is expected to compete at the Arena Pro Swim Series event in Mesa, Ariz., from April 15-18 when his probation will be lifted.
He was handed out a six-month competitive ban plus exclusion from World Aquatic Championships to be held in August at Kazan, Russia later this year following pleading guilty for driving under influence (DUI) in September, 2014. Yet, if ESPN is to be believed Phelps may be back replacing his team mate Tyler Craly. Fellow swimmer Tyler Clary said he supports Phelps’ reinstatement to the team, and would give up his spot in the 200 individual medley if Phelps was reinstated. This wasn’t the swimming legend’s first brush with controversies.
In 2004 case when he was 19, Phelps was sentenced to 18 months’ probation, fined $250 and required to deliver a presentation on alcohol awareness to students at three high schools. He was fresh from the Athens Olympics, where he won six gold medals. Phelps pleaded guilty to the charges, but as a young first-time offender he avoided conviction. In 2009, a photograph surfaced of Phelps allegedly smoking pot from a bong at a party.
He has his unparalleled success through intense training and a body designed to swim. Like many famous athlete of his time, Phelps is no stranger to controversies, yet he is a man grounded to his roots and still trains with his childhood coach Bob Bowman who swears by his perseverance and steely determination. Many people have credited his all round swimming capabilities to his larger than average wing-span, flexible double joints, shorter than average legs and possibly flapper feet. People have been creative to say the least to while coming up with theories explaining remarkable strength and agility yet few can doubt his dedication as he swims over 1oo km in a week.
Out of the Dating Pool:
Things seem to be going high at a personal level as well for the 18 times Olympic gold winner as he announced his engagement to long – time girlfriend Nicole M. Johnson, a former Miss California. The couple announced their decisions on 21st Feb, 2015 on Instagram wherein Nicole is seen lying on top of Phelps while wearing a mammoth sized diamond engagement ring. The Olympian’s family also took to social media pouring their blessings and congratulations to the couple.
As Phelps gears up to put the controversies behind and trains hard for the Rio 2016 Olympics, it’s a sign that the Phelps era in swimming history is not yet over.He will be participating in his fifth Olympics and the world will glue their eyes to cheer on to the success of the world’s greatest athlete ever.
By Shriya Dargan
The blogger is a self-confessed overzealous fan of Michael Phelps and can be seen cheering loud for this Olympian in the streets of New Delhi if Phelps competes in World Aquatic Championship in Russia later this year. She is sportingly called ‘the Jalpari’ by people aware of her obsession.