London, July 22 : Laid-back American swimming champion Michael Phelps says the passion is back, and he hopes to emerge from the London Olympics as the most decorated Olympian of all time.
He needs to win just three medals to surpass Larisa Latynina Olympic record of 18 set between 1956 and 1964. Swimming has been Phelps''s life as well but, at 27, he is getting ready to walk away and is determined not to let anxiety, or the expectation of others, spoil the farewell party in London.
According to The Guardian, the American reckons it would be "kinda cool to rewrite history", as he has done, one way or another, at every Olympics he has attended since Sydney 2000. For the record, Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won 18 medals, including nine gold, five silver and four bronze) in consecutive Games between 1956 and 1964.
Phelps is, after all, already the greatest swimmer in history, of that there can be no statistical doubt. Eight of his 16 Olympic medals came in an adrenaline gold rush in Beijing four years ago, although life has been much tougher since. Preparations for his farewell Olympics have hardly been smooth.
Phelps''s American teammate and rival Tyler Clary – making his Olympic debut in London, says that Phelps, who trains up to five hours a day, seven days a week, was, well, lazy. "The fact that he doesn''t have to work as hard to get that done, it''s a real shame," Clary told the Press-Enterprise in Riverside.
He added: "I think it''s too bad. I think the things he could have done if he''d worked as hard as I do would have been even more incredible than what he has pulled off." Phelps thinks he can do it, although he effects calmness bordering on indifference.
"I know it won''t be eight medals again," he says, confirming the obvious, as he has been entered in only four events – the 200m and 400m individual medley, as well as the 100m and 200m fly – and can feature in a maximum of three relays. "If you guys want to compare me to [his success in Beijing], it''s your decision, not mine," he adds. (ANI)