5-time Olympian Michael Phelps can add yet another acknowledgement to his ever-growing list of career accolades. The 31-year-old Baltimore native was just named ‘World Comeback of the Year’ by the Laureus Awards. The annual ceremony honoring nominees in 7 categories, including Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, took place on February 14th in Monaco, the birthplace of the awards themselves.
Laureus is an organization composed of programs designed to ‘harness the power of sport to promote social change’ around the world. Its endeavors such as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Academy help provide financial and practical support to sporting programs all over the world, in addition to tackling social challenges in the process. Among Laureus ambassadors worldwide are swimmers Missy Franklin (USA) and Ryk Neethling (South Africa).
Phelps made his mark at his final Olympic Games by hauling in 5 golds and 1 silver medal to top out his career with a total of 28 Olympic medals in all. Individually, he made a comeback in the 200 fly after being upset in the event in 2012 and also sealed the deal on a historic 4-peat with his gold in the 200 IM. Phelps also helped the USA take a clean sweep of relay wins.
His history-making appearance in Rio was the final act in a tumultuous final few years of his career, which included another DUI arrest, followed by a suspension and absence from Team USA’s roster at the 2015 World Championships. The soon-to-be Arizona State University volunteer Assistant Coach has since turned his life around via a treatment center stint, re-dedication to training and a healthy lifestyle, along with marriage to Nicole Johnson and embracing fatherhood.
Phelps was nominated for Comeback of the Year alongside Ruth Beitia (high jump), Juan Martin Del Potro (tennis), Fabienne St Louis (triathlon), Nick Skelton (equestrian), and Aksel Lund Svindal (skiing).
American Katie Ledecky was in the running for Sportswoman of the Year, but the honors went to Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles.