If you have tuned into the Olympic summer games at any point over the past 15 years, you have probably heard the name Michael Phelps. You can probably remember the Subway commercials and stories about his enormous breakfasts and his inspiring amount of Olympic victories. If you haven’t heard of Michael Phelps, I am glad you are doing well and back on the Internet after more than a decade on a remote desert island. What's harder to keep track of, though, is just how many medals this legend has won, especially considering Michael Phelps has the most US Olympic medals.
And, not only does he have the most US Olympic medals, he has the most Olympic medals period. Phelps has 22 total and 18 of them are gold medals. According to EuroSport, Phelps won eight medals in Athens at the 2004 games, six of them gold. He won another eight medals in 2008 at the Beijing games, all of them gold. And, Phelps garnered six more medals at London 2012, four of them gold. Wow. But, before Phelps leaves retirement for his final Olympic games in Rio, let’s take a look back at Phelps’s very first Olympic appearance. No, it wasn’t in Athens.
A baby-faced, 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. At the 2000 games, he placed fifth in the 200m butterfly, but that just wasn’t good enough for the man who would become the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps was quoted in an Olympic.org piece about his this first time Olympic experience, saying, “It was great, I was fifth, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. But I didn’t want it. I wanted more. I was within half a second of medaling — it was literally, if I would have taken it out a little bit faster, maybe I would have had a chance.”
This type of drive is what has brought Phelps back to the Olympics again, and again — and even drew him out of retirement. The 31-year-old (his birthday was in June) is coming out of his two-year retirement to compete in the 2016 Olympic games. He will compete in the 4x100m freestyle, 200m butterfly, 4x200m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 100m butterfly, and 4x100m medley, though his relay events are not yet confirmed.
So, how does the winningest Olympian feel about leaving retirement and competing in what is likely his last Olympics? In his March Olympic.org piece, Phelps sounds pretty confident. He says, “I’m 30 years old and swimming almost faster than I ever have before.”
It seems he may be adding more medals to his already record-breaking collection.