According to the Telegraph, 11-time Olympic medalist, Ryan Lochte, says 22-time Olympic medalist, Michael Phelps, will return to competition by the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
”Michael Phelps says he’s retired. The sport will miss him, he is one of my favourite rivals and I will miss him. But I think he will come back,” Lochte said. ”When you do something for so long every day … he’s still young. I think he will be back for Rio,” Lochte added. ”We’ll see, he’ll miss the sport.”
Phelps has been adamant he’s done, despite several close swimming peers predicting he’ll come back. Many of these Olympic brothers and sister haven’t gone on the record. They’ve shared their opinions in private, at the fall parties and numerous awards shows following the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Other Olympians have gone on the record, publically, like Dara Torres. After she barely missed making the 2012 Olympic Team, she tweeted Phelps wouldn’t stay retired, and asked her followers, “anyone care to wager?” Phelps replied that he would take that bet.
Anthony Ervin, who, like Torres, came out of retirement, tweeted, if Phelps doesn’t come back, “I’ll eat my fins.”
Bottom-line, Lochte’s far from alone in his opinion.
Something many Olympians know — and many fans understand — is that most athletes suffer retirement blues. This is a fact, no matter how successful an athlete has been. In retirement they go through a period of depression. Adjusting to normal life is not easy. The struggle is physical and chemical. Your body changes dramatically when you stop training 10 to 15 sessions per week. The daily “high” from pushing yourself to the extreme is not something you expect to suffer withdrawal from, but you do. Moreover, the singular goal of reaching a personal best time is replaced by slightly “fuzzier” goals (though just as important), like career milestones, simply staying healthy, and giving back to your family and community.
Phelps appears to be on the right path to make a smooth transition into his post Olympic life, feeding his competitive spirit with golf, focusing on his Foundation to giveback to the sport he loves. It appears he’s given retirement a great deal of thought. It appears he’s following a plan.
What keeps everyone guessing, and hoping Phelps will return, is his age. Phelps is still young. No one doubts for a split-second he could add more Olympic hardware to his 22 medal haul in Rio. Then again…no one else in the world has experienced winning so much, and 22 medals may be more than enough for the greatest Olympian of all-time.
Ryan Lochte is presently at the FINA Short Course World Championships in Turkey. On day one of prelims he qualifed first in the 200 scm freestyle with a 1:42.41, and first the 100 scm butterfly with a 50.16.