Fact file: Michael Phelps
Born: 30 June 1985
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 91 kg
Nickname: The Baltimore Bullet
Athens Olympics: Six gold medals
Beijing Olympics: Eight gold medals
‘This guy (is) the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time.’ Mark Spitz.
You must have heard of Michael Phelps - almost anyone who has ever watched an international swimming event in the last few years has heard of Michael Phelps. He is the most famous swimmer in the world. He is the only Olympian to win eight golds in one Olympic Games - a gold for every single event. He’s a legend. He has broken almost every record and has won every gold medal - so why is he going to London in 2012? What more can he possibly want?
Michael began swimming when he was seven. He was a hyper-active child. He couldn’t sit still and he couldn’t keep quiet. His teachers said he couldn’t focus on anything. They were wrong. He focused on swimming and he swam like a fish. He held the national record for his age when he was ten and he swam in the 2000 Olympics when he was fifteen. He was the youngest male Olympian since 1932! Then, still aged fifteen, he became the youngest man to break a world record. Since then, he has broken one record after another. He says:
‘Records are made to be broken...Anybody can do anything they set their minds to.’
Maybe not anybody. Michael Phelps has the perfect body for a swimmer. He is very tall and thin, so he cuts through the water like a knife. He has very long arms so he can make very powerful strokes. And he has very large feet which act like flippers.
He also likes pasta and pizza and eats about 12,000 calories each day. That’s enough for five normal men!
So why is he going to London? Because he wants to race his old rival, Australia’s swimming legend Ian Thorpe - and he’s likely to get the chance in 2012.
‘To have him back is something that I’ve wanted to see for years... It would be amazing. He’s been out for seven years. He hasn’t swum in a major competition since the 2004 Olympics, so adding him is going to make it a lot more interesting. ’
It certainly is! So sit back, turn on the TV and get ready for the battle of the giants!