Of all the qualities that have helped make Michael Phelps the world’s greatest swimmer, his natural sense of timing is perhaps the one that really sets him apart from the rest.
Phelps struggled to maintain his motivation for the relentless grind of training after his gold medal winning streak in Beijing, but just as he has done throughout his career, the 27-year-old has timed his run to the London Olympics to perfection. After suffering defeats at the past two world championships and last month’s US Olympic trials, Phelps has rediscovered his passion and form and is back on track for another golden performance.
“He’s trained really well since the trials so I think he’ll be better than he did there,” said Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman. “I’m very happy with what he’s done. I think he’s improved significantly. He’s really trained better than he ever did before.”
Gregg Troy, who is the head coach of the US men’s team and also a personal coach of Phelps’ biggest rival Ryan Lochte, was also gushing after watching him train.
“From what I’ve seen, Michael will be outstanding,” said Troy. “He’s going to be ready to go and be a really top competitor.”
Phelps and Lochte will clash in the 200 and 400 metres individual medley events in London, where the 2012 Games start on Friday. At the US trials, Phelps won the 200 medley but Lochte beat him in the 400 one, setting the stage for an epic showdown in the British capital.
“I’m not frightened of anyone,” said Phelps when asked whether he feared Lochte. “The only things I’m afraid of are snakes and heights. I don’t think Ryan’s a snake and I think I’m taller than him. I have my goals and I hope to achieve them. It’s not going to be easy but if I can accomplish them I’ll be pleased. Whether I come first or second or eighth, it doesn’t matter.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.