Rio 2016: Phenomenal Phelps ready to embrace new chapter


Legendary swimmer Michael Phelps waved goodbye after increasing his phenomenal Olympic medal haul to 28 on Saturday and this time it seems the all-conquering American will not be back.

There was more than a sense of deja vu when the most decorated Olympian of all time vowed that is was time for a "new chapter" following his latest Herculean exploits in Rio.

Phelps called time on his career following the London Games four years ago, only to retract his decision in 2014 after stating that he was bored in retirement.

"I am getting older and I do find it harder to recover," Phelps said when explaining his decision to quit back in 2012.

Having struggled with depression and spent a spell in rehab two years ago, Phelps found sanctuary back in the pool and the peerless 31-year-old's decision to make a comeback has paid off royally in Brazil.

Twelve years after the fresh-faced 'Baltimore Bullet' won six golds at his first Olympics in Athens, one of the greatest sportsmen of all time added another five and a silver to his unrivalled collection at this year's Games.

There was the familiar sight of Phelps on top of the podium yet again after the final swimming event, having helped the United States win the 4x100 metre medley on Sunday.

With 23 golds to his name, he maintained that the curtain had definitely come down on his remarkable career this time around. 

"I wanted people to see the real me. I can't wrap my head around it. I've lived so many incredible things. I'm at a loss of words," Phelps said.

"It's been an amazing ride. These Games are special because I am able to start the next chapter of my life. I am retiring, but I am not done with swimming. It's the start of something new."

Another Olympics, another Phelps retirement. But it would appear that he really means it and is ready to test new waters.

Spending more time with fiancee Nicole Johnson and his young son Boomer are now on the agenda for a man who has long since achieved sporting greatness.

Ryan Lochte still thinks his rival will be back for the Tokyo Games in 2020, but Phelps is a winner and it would be asking a lot for him to continue his heroics at the age of 35.

Phelps should bow out in style and his dominance in Rio is a fitting swansong for an athlete whose Olympic achievements may never be matched.