The United States' Michael Phelps is already the greatest swimmer of this generation and possibly the greatest Olympic athlete the world has ever seen.
Unfortunately for him, he's been under a massive amount of scrutiny from his home country due to his statement that he will be retiring after the London Olympics (via Yahoo! Sports).
After winning eight gold medals in Beijing, there's no way that he can possibly reach the bar the the American public has set so high for him. He already has 16 medals to his credit and needs just three more this Summer to surpass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina's record of 18 that has stood since she retired in 1966.
Phelps isn't the swimmer he once was. He is still one of the best in the world, but the gap between he and his competition has closed since his dominance in Beijing.
Essentially, all Phelps needs to do is place in the top three in four events to become the most decorated Olympian in world history. He has a huge shot at placing in the 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and 400-meter individual medley—there's no denying that.
The only question remaining is that of his motivation. Even one of his teammates, Tyler Clary, called him out on his poor work ethic (via Jim Alexander of The Press-Enterprise):
“Basically, he was a swimmer that didn’t want to be there. They can talk about all of these goals and plans and preparation they have. I saw it. I know. It’s different. And I saw somebody that has basically been asking to get beat for the longest time.”
Only time will tell if Phelps can live up to the hype.