Michael Phelps ended the 2012 Olympics as the most decorated athlete in the history of the competition. At the time, it seemed like he would use that opportunity to end his career on a high note and enter retirement with his head held high.
But as quoted by Mike Singer of CBS Sports, the 28-year-old may not be done adding to his legacy, as he isn't ruling out a potential return for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.
Phelps said, “I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.”
While that’s not exactly an endorsement for a triumphant return, it does leave the door open for a short foray back into the world of competitive swimming. Phelps’ driving force has always been his desire to be the best, and it can’t be easy to let that go.
That said, Phelps did make a point to discuss life after swimming and his leisurely retirement, per Singer:
I have no plans to do anything. I love what I'm doing now. I'm able to travel so much, play golf. I'm on my schedule. I've never been able to have that. I've never been able to do really whatever I want to do. ...It's nice waking up at 10, 11, 12 o'clock in the afternoon. I'm pretty lazy besides playing golf.
The Rio Games are still nearly three years away, and Phelps has made no indication he is planning a return. By the same token, three years is plenty of time to prepare for a return, and it’s hard to believe Phelps isn’t at least tempted by the prospects of returning to the pool and adding to his Olympic resume.
With six medals in London, Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete in any individual sport (22 medals). He’ll be 31 by the time the Rio Games begin, but he’s still young enough to make a return and add to that record should he choose to end his retirement and, as noted by Singer, break his plans for not swimming past the age of 30.