This is the message, Portuguese for “Thank You, Phelps,” that the world is sending to American swimmer Michael Phelps upon his retirement from competitive swimming – which he has declared and reaffirmed is now.
Unlike his last retirement, after the 2012 Olympics, Phelps seems settled. In 2012, even though he won 4 gold medals, it was a struggle. It was clear he wasn’t fully engaged in swimming, he wasn’t all that interested in what he was doing. The stories were all about having trouble with practice attendance; about clashes with his longtime coach Bob Bowman; about how he wanted to become a sprinter but his coach wanted him to stay true to his core.
This time, though, with a not entirely-indifferent 5 gold medals (the difference being a relay sweep in Rio), the mood and tone was different. Phelps was again the best in the world, he was happy with his swimming and with his life. He was excising his demons with gambling and alcohol that led to his arrest in 2014. He was starting a family and had recently welcomed his first child, Boomer, into his life.
He was more engaging with his fans and with the media. This time it feels right. Rio was a proper sendoff for Phelps, with stories about how incredible his success was in overcoming struggles, not stories about how incredible it was that he had so many struggles and could still succeed.
Phelps will retire as the most decorated Olympian of all time with 13 individual gold medals, 23 Olympic gold medals, and 28 total Olympic medals. While many, including his peer Ryan Lochte, say they don’t believe he’s done, if this is the end, Phelps will now retire on his terms and go out the way he wanted.
In the above video, fans from around the world thank Phelps for the thrills he’s given in the pool since his first Olympics in Sydney in the year 2000.