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Onward with Phelps

Derek Parr | August 23, 2004

Tough news for aspiring Olympic swimming champions: Michael Phelps could be ruling the roost for another two Games.

The 19-year-old American performed great feats in the Athens pool, claiming six gold medals and two bronze to match the record aggregate for a single Games.

"I had a blast doing it, being back where the modern Olympics started. It was incredible," Phelps said on Sunday.

Michael PhelpsAt 15 at the 2000 Sydney Games he was the youngest U.S. Olympian since 1932. Time is on his side and he fancies the idea of continuing to 2012, particularly if New York wins the right to stage the Games. The host city will be decided next year.

He said he would relish a chance to "swim my last meet, my last Olympic Games, in the United States, if we get that bid.

"I hope to swim for the next eight or 10 years but we'll have to see how things pan out," he told reporters.

Phelps may also have another crack in Beijing in 2008 at matching the record seven golds achieved by compatriot Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympics, a feat which would net him $1 million from a swimwear company.

"I wouldn't count anything out. Just having the opportunity and the chance to be able to go for such an amazing record like that -- not many people have that opportunity ... I will definitely keep all options open for the next four years."

Phelps enjoyed Spitz being present when he won the 100 butterfly: "Having someone who is such a swimming icon, a sport's legend, cheering you on is definitely very meaningful."

MOVING ON

Change is to come for the teenager dubbed "The Baltimore Barracuda" by one of his high school teachers. He is moving to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with his coach of eight years, Bob Bowman, before the year is out.

"I'm really looking forward to going up there and training with a new group of guys ... It's going to be a change of lifestyle, it's going to be the first opportunity to get out and experience the real world," he said.

He will soon be focusing on October's world short-course championships in Indianapolis but for now he is happy to relax his usual tough regimen. "This is the first week I've ever had off from swimming, the start of the first week," he said.

He has also enjoyed splurging on his favourite fast-food -- three times on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

As for Athens and the gold medal podium experience: "Every swimmer growing up wants to win an Olympic gold medal, they want to do the best they can do. It's something I always wanted.

"There's nothing like it. You get up there, your emotions go, the tears start coming to your eyes, you hear the Star Spangled Banner play. It's incredible. It's something that's going to live with you for ever."


More features | Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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