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PopWrapped | Sports

He's Back: Michael Phelps Comes Out Of Retirement

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author

PopWrapped

Updated 04/14/2014 6:13pm

Hannah Daglish

Senior Content Editor

@hkdaglish

Michael Phelps changed the world of swimming, and with it, changed sport itself. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he became the most prolific medalist at a single games, taking eight gold medals home to Baltimore. When he finished his fourth and apparently final Olympics in London, he was the proud owner of 22 Olympic medals, 18 of which are gold, establishing him as the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.  Whilst he was only 27 in 2012, four Olympics surpassed what most athletes achieve, and Phelps' immediate retirement after London 2012 was widely accepted and understood. However, his absence from the World Championships in 2013 was painfully obvious, and there was still a lot of talk of what he would have done and what he might have been capable of had he still been competing.
Courtesy of EPA Courtesy of EPA
However, last Autumn, rumours began to circulate that Phelps had returned to training, and had re-entered the US drug-testing programme. Because the drug testing programme requires at least six months of testing before athletes can be cleared to compete, the rumours of a real comeback remained unconfirmed. But that all changed today, when it was announced that Phelps was indeed back, and ready to race. The 28 year old is set to race later this month in Mesa, Arizona, at the Arena Grand Prix and has also entered the following installments of the Grand Prix, in North Carolina and California respectively. While the swimming world, and indeed the wider sporting world, has erupted with excitement over the news, his coach Bob Bowman is trying to keep things relatively low key. Bowman, who has coached Phelps throughout his career, was wary of laying any expectation on Phelps just yet: "He's gotten back into good shape since September. He can give a good effort and certainly not be embarrassed. He's in enough shape to swim competitively. I think he's just really enjoying it," said Bowman. "He enjoys the training and being physically fit. He just kind of wants to see where he's at. It's more really for fun. It's been nice for me to see him swim just for the joy of it really," "He's really doing this because he wants to. There's no outside pressure at all."
Courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The US will be holding trials in August to determine their team for next year's world championships. Will we see Phelps back on the national team for such a big event so soon? Bowman is certainly keeping his cards close to his chest on this one: "I wouldn't say it's 100% on the radar. After Mesa, we're going to sit down and talk about it." Being a big fan of both Phelps and Bowman, I've got a feeling that both of them are definitely thinking ahead to the World Championships, if not to Rio in 2016. Obviously the real test will come when he gets back into racing, but I'm sure I speak for swimming and sports fans everywhere when I say welcome back Michael, we've missed you.  

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