How do you know when you’ve won enough Olympic gold medals? Can you call it quits after winning one, or is one taste of victory just enough to spark an addiction? For swimming champ Michael Phelps, the magic number of Olympic medals was a record-setting 28. Now that he’s got all those, he says it’s time to retire.
Phelps has had one of the longest-running Olympic careers, but after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, he’s finally satisfied with how far he’s come. He started out competing in the biggest sports competition in the world when he was just 15 years old. Now, he’s 31, married, a father and has 23 gold medals and an additional five silver and bronze.
His previous pseudo-retirement has made people question if he really means it this time. Phelps had retired once before in 2012, but made a return two years later. However, this time, things seem different.
“The hardest thing is going to be not having the chance to represent my country,” the athlete said. “Not having the chance to stand on the medal platform and hear the national anthem. I’m at peace with how things ended. I’d rather have a healthy body in 20 years than kill myself more now. To me, it’s a no-brainer.”
Even his coach Bob Bowman believes the past Summer Olympics are Phelps’ final. “The difference now is the family,” he said, referencing Phelps’ wife, Nicole, and 8-month-old baby, Boomer. Michael and Nicole were married last summer in a private ceremony.
“They have Boomer, and I’m sure there will be more kids. I just don’t see him spending the time, or really feeling a need to do it,” Bowman added. “His age showed a little bit in Rio. He was tired by the end. But he loved it. The world loved it.”
However, Nicole thinks Boomer is precisely the reason why Phelps won’t quit. “I give it eight years, and then Boomer is like, ‘Come on, Dad, let’s see it one more time,'” she laughed.
For now, Michael Phelps is satisfied with his 28 Olympic medals, and we can’t blame him for that.