American swimming super star Michael Phelps has achieved more than any other athlete in Olympic and world championship history.
He has won 14 gold medals in total at the Olympics, eight alone in Beijing in 2008 and has another 22 gold medals from the long course swimming world championships.
But far from resting on his laurels and looking back at his achievements, the 26—year old said on Saturday in Shanghai, where he is competing in the 14th swimming world champions, that he is not interested in the past and has only looked at his Olympic gold medals a few times.
“The Olympic medals are in secret hiding spot. I don’t really look at them. A short while ago my sister was visiting and asked if she could see them and I said: ‘yes sure, whatever.’ “I don’t really look at the past because there is so much I can do in the future,” he said.
“I think the past will hit home much more when I am no longer competing.” Phelps reiterated an earlier announcement that next year’s Olympics in London would his last.
“Everybody in life has a time when they want to move forward. I am excited for the next year, but then I am also excited to move on and try something else.
“It is hard to think that I will be hanging up my suit, but I have a year left and I will have fun.” He said that he was not concerned about the fact that he was constantly in the limelight. “I consider myself just an ordinary guy and I do exactly what I want to do.
“If I want to go down the road and have a meal, I do that, or if I want to play 18 holes of golf, I will do that.” Phelps said that he had managed to pull himself out of a slump into which he had fallen after the Olympics in Beijing, when he slowed down his training and spent a lot of time on the golf course.
“I think what changed my attitude was when I started was taking charge of my own actions. I was wanting to do it for myself, not waiting for the coach to twist my arms.
“I have to want to do it and in the last six to eight months that has happened.
“I think I realised the things I do in and out of pool affect me.
I have to take responsibility for the things I do. I hurt myself, not anybody else.
“If I want to do something, I have to do it myself. I did all the things I did after Beijing to myself and going through some hard times is the biggest learning process.” Phelps lost a number of races last year and his coach Bob Bowman said that he was even in a better shape than the swimmer, but Phelps had managed to come back.
“I am in a lot better shape than last year. I don’t think I am in the same ballpark as I was last year. It just goes to show that playing golf is not ideal training for a swimming race and that the more you train, the better you will race,” Phelps said.
He said he cherished the thought of swimming in China again, after his success three years ago in Beijing. “I hope I can have luck on my side this week.
“To come back is exciting as I have a lot of great memories. But it will be a challenging week. As a team we are in the best place we can be.
“But now I am kind of tired about waiting around, sitting in the hotel and playing games. I want the competition to start.”