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Updated: April 16, 2014 13:53 IST
Swimming

Olympic swimming champion Phelps to come out of retirement

DPA
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Michael Phelps, of the United States, jumps off the blocks enroute to winning gold in the final of the 400 meter individual medley at the Olympic Aquatic Centre during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
AP Michael Phelps, of the United States, jumps off the blocks enroute to winning gold in the final of the 400 meter individual medley at the Olympic Aquatic Centre during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Phelps retired after the London Olympics 2012 where he won six medals, including four gold

Michael Phelps, the most-decorated Olympian in history, is ending his 20-month retirement to swim in competition later this month, USA Swimming announced on Monday.

The 18-time gold medallist, who is 28 years old, is entered to compete on April 24-26 in Mesa, Arizona, at an event on USA Swimming’s 2013-14 Arena Grand Prix Series.

The event will see Phelps race for the first time since winning six medals — including four gold — at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He collected 22 medals during his Olympic career, which spanned three Summer Games starting in 2004.

The possibility of a return to competition arose after Phelps registered in November with the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which would make him eligible for the 2015 World Championships.

In Mesa, Phelps plans to enter the 50 and 100-meter freestyles and 100-metre butterfly events, agent Drew Johnson told the Baltimore Sun, the swimmer’s hometown newspaper.

His coach, Bob Bowman, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that Phelps was following a lighter schedule, “doing half the training he used to.” “We have discussed a long-term plan in general terms, but until he swims in a meet we’re not going to know,” Bowman said. “Will he be eighth? Second? Sixteenth? I think he certainly won’t be embarrassed swimming in the meet, and I think he will be competitive.” In 2012, on the day of his last medal, gold in the 400-meter medley relay in London, Phelps said that he had “been able to do everything I’ve wanted to accomplish. I’ve been able to do things that nobody has ever done.” Comeback rumours have dogged him ever since.

Not a surprise

US swimming legend Mark Spitz, who had 11 career Olympic medals including nine gold, was not surprised by Phelps’ return.

“I predicted that he was gonna come back. I said it about one year ago,” he told dpa. “I’m much more interested in watching swimming now than I was this morning.”

Julio Maglione, president of the International Swimming Federation, told dpa in July that he expected Phelps to mount a comeback. He said the swimmer had declined a position on the organization’s executive committee.

“He told us he does not have time,” Maglione said at the time, “because it seems that he wants to come back in Rio 2016.” When he retired, Phelps said that he did not want to be competing at 30. He would be 31 for the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

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