Michael Phelps opens up about rehab and his past struggles and competing in the upcoming Rio Olympics. The 18-time Olympic gold medalist also speaks about his plans for a comeback in the sport this year, and how he is moving forward with his life.
Michael Phelps gave a rare television interview to Today Show, and opened up about his struggles over the past several years that have dominated headlines even as he had become a legend in sports, as the most decorated Olympian of all time.
But his place in sports history might not have come to be, he revealed in the interview. He made a surprising admission about the 2012 Summer Olympics. He said, “Leading into London, I didn’t want anything to do with the sport. I think I was just over it. I think personally I had a lot of struggle getting through the four years after ’08.”
He also opened up about his DUI arrest and conviction and his time in rehab. He made headlines all over the world when he was pulled over in Baltimore for speeding and for driving under the influence. In the aftermath, he spent 45 days in rehab in Arizona at The Meadows of Wickenburg. He also faced a six-month suspension from competitive swimming, imposed by USA Swimming. He was also barred from competing at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships.
He said, “I sent myself down a downward spiral. I think it was more of, of a sign than anything else. That I had to get something under control, whatever it was. I look back at that night, and everything happened for a reason.”
When Matt Lauer asked him if it was a cry for help, Phelps said, “I believe so. Yeah. I really do.”
He went on to say, “I was at the lowest place I’ve ever been. Honestly, I sort of at one point, I just, I felt like I didn’t want to see another day…felt like it should be over.”
Speaking of his stint in rehab, he said, “I think I was at a point in my life where something needed to change. And I needed to figure things out.”
He continued, saying, “I don’t know if it was, like, afraid of just letting go and showing who I am or what it was. And, and I finally was just, like, ‘You know what? Screw this. I’m not, I’m not hiding behind anything anymore. I am who I am. And, and you don’t like it, it’s really not my issue and it’s not my problem.'”
Asked if he considered himself to be an alcoholic, Phelps said, “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I know I have probably moments where I have gone off the deep end where I shouldn’t. I would say binged more than anything else.”
He also opened up about competing in the Rio Summer Olympics and said, “I want to be here. That’s the difference. I had no desire to go to work out before. I want to retire how I want to retire. And I have a great opportunity to do that. I mean, I haven’t trained like this in a decade.”
No doubt the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games will mark his final Olympic bid, and, as with all of his appearances at the Games, it will be closely watched. You can see the full interview video below, as Michael Phelps opens up about rehab and his future.
Pictures: PR Photos