A stirring account of how Michael Phelps overcame his inner demons to rise to the top

At one point in 2014, he even contemplated ending his life.
A stirring account of how Michael Phelps overcame his inner demons to rise to the top
A stirring account of how Michael Phelps overcame his inner demons to rise to the top
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The most decorated Olympian of all time Michael Phelps has just won a record 21st gold medal of his career at Rio taking his overall tally to 25 medals. So beneath the veneer of stardom, what was it like growing up?

A YouTube video titled ‘The Evolution of Michael Phelps’ is doing the rounds online and has garnered more than 1 million views. It presents a detailed insight into the life and career of Phelps, and the fears, self-doubts and travails that he had to conquer, to become the champion that he is.  

The video starts with an impassioned Phelps saying, “It was just like a time bomb, waiting to go off. No self-esteem, no self-worth. It was just not good. I was just so lost. Where do I go from here? What do I do now?

In his fiance’s words, “I don’t know where he was headed and it was kind of scary and you want to save that person because you love him but at the same time you can’t help anybody if they don’t want help.”

Phelps had a troubled relationship with his father who divorced his mother when he was just nine. ‘’I felt like he was abandoning me,” says Phelps. Sister Hillary Eldridge says that both Phelps and their father were strong-willed, opinionated people who spoke their mind, which resulted in a clash of personalities.

Bob Bowman who was Phelps’ swimming coach since the age of 11, then became like a father-figure to him.

After winning an unprecedented eight golds at the Beijing Olympics, Phelps says he despised the image of perfection his success had created. A photograph of Phelps smoking bong then appeared which showed that all was not well in his life.

And after the London Olympics of 2012, Phelps made the shock announcement of his retirement at the age of 27. “Done, bye, see you, finished. Nothing, nothing, I wanted nothing to do with sport. I was done,” he had said.

In the middle of 2014, Phelps was going through a rough patch after being arrested for drunk driving, for a second time in his life, and he even contemplated ending his life. It was at this point that advice from long-time friend and mentor Ray Lewis lifted his spirits.

Reading a book titled ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ gifted to him by Ray while attending rehabilitation therapy, infused new hope in Phelps who started believing in the existence of a superior power. It helped him mend his relationship with his father and also start a family.   

And as fate would have it, he has returned for one last Olympics in Rio.

“I know what my career would always mean to me, something that I dreamt of and I lived and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters,” Phelps signs off.

Here’s the video:

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