Rio 2016: Michael Phelps emotional even before final career gold


Michael Phelps revealed that he had to hold back tears as he took to an Olympic podium for the final time on Saturday, having battled with his emotions throughout his last day as an Olympian.

Phelps picked up his 23rd Olympic gold medal, helping the United States' 4x100 metre medley relay team to victory in the final swimming race of Rio 2016 - USA's fourth win in the event in as many Games.

The most-decorated Olympian of all-time will now bring the curtain down on his phenomenal career, fully aware of the gravity surrounding his unequalled achievements.

"Getting off the bus walking into the pool tonight, I almost felt myself starting to cry," Phelps said. 

"[It's the] last warm-up, last time putting on a suit, last time walking out in front of thousands of people representing my country. 

"It's insane... A lot better than what it was four years ago."

After all he has been through, from an eight-gold performance in Beijing, to a post-depression London comeback and a rehab stint in 2014, Phelps is finally content with his swimming career that ended with a new Olympic record on the 4x100 medley relay. 

"This is how I wanted to finish my career, the way I wanted to," he said. 

"I held back a little bit on the podium but there were some [tears] that were popping down. It just feels good to know that the hard work did pay off and I was able to fight through some of the times that I went through the last two years and get back to where I actually wanted to be.

"This was the actual cherry on top of the cake and looking forward to starting a new chapter."