‘Never miss training, and never give up’

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Swimmer extraordinaire Michael Phelps says Rio exploits gave him the most satisfaction

Michael Phelps, who has won 23 Olympic golds and 27 gold medals in World Championships, regaled the gathering at the launch of Under Armour in India, here on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding a long flight, Phelps was relaxed and cheerful as he mentioned that the Rio Olympics gave him the most satisfaction, as he came back from retirement to win five gold medals.

“In terms of stats, obviously it had to be Beijing because I won eight gold. But, Rio was the climb of the mountain. One of the most enjoyable rides for me. I felt like a 16 or 17 year old all over again. I loved the process,” said Phelps.

He did win four gold medals in London, but observed that he was not at his best form. “It was challenging to come back after the success of Beijing. It was hard to find the motivation. That and coming back for Rio, it made the journey so much better,” he said.

He had announced himself to world with six gold medals at Athens in 2004.

No comebacks!

“When I get into the pool, I don’t have the same feel. I have lost it! No comeback guys. So, Don’t ask that question,” said Phelps laughing, as he emphasised that his fascinating journey as a swimmer, when he set 39 World records apart from winning all the medals, was over.

Addressing the young sporting India, Phelps said that it was important to dream big. “Never give up on anything you dream. If you truly want it, you can make it a reality. My life is an example. It was not easy, it was not fun. Never miss training, and never give up. I had no opportunity to give up on training. Listen to your coaches. Train well. Hope to see you in Tokyo,” he said.

“It is all in the six inches between the two ears, whether it is golf, tennis, basketball, cricket, soccer, football. Performing at that one moment is the challenge,” said Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

When Kevin queried, Phelps admitted that ‘he hated losing’ more than anything else, but was “not afraid of losing.”

Recalling the most common question about what was in his mind when he was ready to jump into the pool for the races, Phelps said that there was ‘nothing’.

“You can’t change anything. It is what it is,” said Phelps as he pointed at the need to stay cool while jumping into the pool, focusing on the process and executing to the best of one’s ability.

Phelps stressed that training was everything, and that if he missed one day, it meant two days of training to get back to the same level. “I did it for 16 years, six days a week,” he said.

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