Phelps ‘more vocal’ now as US team mentor in Rio
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 12 (IANS) Michael Phelps has said he has become more outspoken at the Rio Olympics as he embraces his role as a mentor to younger team-mates.
The 31-year-old is competing at his fifth Games and has already extended his record as the most successful Olympian, with his 22nd Olympics gold on Thursday, winning the men’s 200m individual medley event, reports Xinhua.
He became the first swimmer to win the same event at four consecutive Olympics with the win, clocking in 1 minute 54.66 seconds for 200m individual medley on Thursday, almost two seconds ahead of Japan’s Kosuke Hagino.
But gold medals are not Phelps’ only priority as he leads one of America’s youngest ever Olympic swimming teams in Rio.
“I’m just probably more vocal and more outgoing now than I have been in the past,” Phelps said after the heats of the 100m breaststroke, in which he qualified fourth fastest for the semi-finals.
“We do have a very young team, so anything I can teach them on my last couple of days as a US swimmer, I’m proud to do. It’s a young, hungry team and I think that’s something that is really special that I had the opportunity to be a part of in 2000.”
Phelps singled out Chase Kalisz, who took the silver medal in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, as one to watch at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“We are able to get these guys some swims at this level and I think it’s something that hopefully is going to help them throughout their career,” he said.
“It keeps them excited and hungry for another four years. I can say that’s definitely how Chase is right now. Talking with him, he’s one of the rookies I’m very close with. I feel like we have a lot of hungry kids who are pumped for the next four years.”
Phelps also described the participation of refugees in Rio as “special”.
“I think it’s great just having anybody who is able to compete in these Games,” he said.
“This is something that’s very special, that no matter what’s going on in the world, we can all come together as one, in one village, competing in the same events. I think that’s something that you don’t get to see anywhere else.”