Rejuvenated Phelps giving his all in final Games bid

Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:02am EST
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By Larry Fine

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Michael Phelps has emerged from one of the darkest periods of his life as a happy man and immersed himself in a career revival, which is bad news for anyone looking to spoil his bid for a glorious Olympic farewell.

The American swimmer, who owns a record 18 Olympic gold medals, retired after winning four golds and two silver medals at the 2012 London Games.

Yet deep down, Phelps knew he did not give his best in 2012 and after hitting a personal low in 2014, rededicated himself, embracing life and working harder than ever in hopes of leaving the sport after the Rio Olympics on a high note at the ripe age of 31.

"I'm happy with who I am, I’m happy where I am. I'm happy with what I’m doing and I feel like a kid again," Phelps told Reuters at the Under Armour complex in Baltimore where he was promoting a TV commercial for the apparel maker.

"I feel more relaxed in my own skin than I've ever been, and I'm happier than I've ever been. It's the best spot I've ever been in my life."

His impending marriage to former Miss California Nicole Johnson and eagerly awaited arrival of their baby boy have enriched the man, who despite all his triumphs had been sorely troubled in the past.

"I look back to 2012 and how I prepared for that and I can tell you it was a joke. It was," said Phelps. "I had no passion and wasn't really too into it. I had no motivation. I think I needed time away from everything - from the sport, from my family, my friends, from every single part of my life."

Phelps hit bottom in late 2014 with his second arrest on a drunken driving charge that resulted in a six-month ban by USA Swimming and 45 days in alcohol rehabilitation.   Continued...

Aug 9, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Michael Phelps swims in the men's 200 meters individual medley (IM) final during the Phillips 66 National Championships at Northside Swim Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports