Olympic icon Michael Phelps was recently on-hand in Dubai to help open one of his sponsor’s new stores. At 700 square meters, the Dubai Mall will now be home to Under Armour’s largest retail outlet, with the brand being one of Phelps’ most lucrative ambassadorship deals.
The retired Phelps spoke to the attendees of the store opening event, covering a range of topics including his most recent Olympic experience, becoming a father and his advocacy for mental health.
“Now I get to talk about things that I never really talked about,” he said while speaking at the store opening. “Throughout my career I don’t want to say I had a mask on but some of the times I wasn’t truly showing who I was, but I think over the last three years I’ve shown this is me, this is what you get.” (gulfnews)
Since retiring from competitive swimming, Phelps has been on a campaign of sorts to speak out regarding mental health issues. He joined the board of Medibio, an Australian medical technology company, that developed new technology that helps diagnose mental health disorders such as depression or chronic stress.
He and longtime training partner Allison Schmitt were also selected to serve as Honorary Chairpersons of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Health Awareness Day national event this past May.
Touching on the subject in Dubai, Phelps said, “I can honestly say I’ve gone through depression probably half-a-dozen times, I have anxiety, I have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), these are things that make me human I guess, and I’ll get up and talk about them because it’s part of my life and I have nothing to hide.
“I’m completely comfortable to open up and talk about things when it comes to mental health and hopefully we can teach people that it’s OK not to be OK.
“Look, I wanted to kill myself and I was able to come back two years later and be the happiest guy in the world because I had the right tools around me and I was willing to change and I was willing to get better.”
Phelps specifically discussed his training from 2008 to 2012, a period which the 32-year-old calls ‘the worst four years of training in my life.’ He said, “I’d skip weeks at a time, I’d disappear, would travel and do things that I probably shouldn’t be doing.”
As a result Phelps saw his 200m butterfly Olympic title slide into the hands of then-young-gun Chad Le Clos of South Africa who took gold in the event in London.
“The 200-metre butterfly final at London haunted me for a long time but looking back at it, I got what I deserved,” Phelps said.
However, the consummate mentally-tough athlete, the GOAT turned that animosity into fuel, saying, “I wanted to come back and be as good as I could, and really that was just for myself.” In Rio, Phelps would go on to win 5 more gold meals and a silver to bring his career haul to an unprecedented 28 Olympic medals in all.
Although insistent he is done with competition in the pool, aside from a possible comeback race against boxing superstar Conor McGregor, Phelps says he’s not going to fade away.
“I’m by no means done, or going to just sit back in retirement mode, I’m still going to work, it’s something I want to do and need to do in order to stay sane.”