Michael Phelps will not let a newspaper spat with US teammate Tyler Clary dim his enjoyment of his final Olympics — or his pursuit of a last helping of Games gold.
“Some people like to express their feelings in words,” said Phelps. “Some like to express them in action. I’ve always done that by swimming, and that’s how I’ll continue to do it.”
Clary questioned the 14-time Olympic gold medallist’s work ethic, saying he saw a ‘real lack of preparation’ from Phelps when they trained together at the University of Michigan four years ago. Phelps said Clary had apologised privately during the US team’s training camp in Tennessee, immediately after the US trials.
In a relaxed mood as he faced hundreds of journalists, and with long-time coach Bob Bowman at his side, Phelps said in London he was confident his career accomplishments would stand for themselves.
“I’ve gotten to where I am today by working hard, and I know that and Bob knows that,” he said. “And nobody else thinks that, so it doesn’t matter. I’m very happy with my career and what I’ve done throughout it.”
Bowman said it was only after Phelps stepped up his strength training that he began to take even one day off a week from the pool. Perhaps not surprisingly, Phelps slacked off a little in the wake of his glittering eight-gold haul in Beijing. But he and Bowman believe he has done enough in the past two years to close his Games career in style.
Phelps clearly wants to go out on top. Slated to defend four individual titles and three relays, Phelps was asked which one he most wants to retain.
“Obviously, all of them,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.