Michael Phelps is back for a sequel to his Olympic farewell.
This time, he insists, it really is goodbye.
After retiring and then un-retiring, Phelps is in Rio as the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. He already is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, with 18 golds and 22 medals overall, and at age 31 he remains the biggest star in a sport that also will feature teen sensation Katie Ledecky and an increasingly diverse pool of potential champions from around the world.
Look for Phelps to add significantly to his medal total. He qualified for his three best individual events — the 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter medley and 100-meter butterfly — and likely will be part of all three men’s relays on the powerful U.S. team.
Just don’t expect another comeback.
“This is it,” Phelps said. “No more.”
Sure about that?
“I’m done,” he reiterated. “The body is done. This is my last one.”
Phelps initially retired after the London Games in 2012, only to backtrack on that decision 18 months later.
Looking at London, Phelps said he really didn’t want to be at the Olympics and wasn’t in top condition, even though he still was good enough to capture four golds and two silvers. He came back with a rekindled passion for swimming, only to run into another major challenge when he was arrested for the second time on drunken-driving charges.
That led Phelps to overhaul his personal life. He went into therapy, gave up alcohol, got engaged, made peace with his estranged father and, in the biggest change of all, became a father for the first time when son Boomer was born in May.
No matter what happens in Rio, he wants it to be the final stop in his golden career.