Olympic great Mark Spitz is happy Michael Phelps is back, believes Phelps was lost without the attention and competition
Olympic great Mark Spitz is in Shanghai, China speaking before the Laureus World Sports Awards. Spitz is very excited Michael Phelps is back competing this week at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Arizona. Phelps is expected to race in five events, returning from a six month suspension.
More from Swimming
- Olympian Ryan Murphy finds a way to remain in his favorite element
- 25 women in sports to celebrate for Women’s History Month
- Olympian Ryan Murphy creates pressure to deal with pressure
- 23 incredible sports photos from Getty Images this week
- 22 incredible sports photos from Getty Images this week
Spitz believes Phelps was having a difficult time away from the sport.
"“Michael did not go to college. He devoted his time and energy to perfect his craft. He did a marvelous job at that. I think that when he walked away from the sport he was lost. He was lost emotionally from the attention that the sport gave him and the drive of what he wanted to do in life and maybe he experienced this loneliness that brought him back to the sport.”"
For those who think that Spitz may perhaps be jealous of Phelps becoming the world wide standard in swimming, think again.
"“I don’t have a horse in the race. I got put out to pasture a long time ago. He is a great ambassador to the name of swimming. He is the benchmark by how all others judge themselves by. For 36 years I was that person. For me, what better accolade personally, my success being written in the books, to inspire somebody else to break my record and I was alive to watch it, which for me is rewarding and I find it fascinating. When you look at his accomplishments, they dwarf my accomplishments.”"
Spitz does believe that if the rules had been different when he swam, his medal count would be different.
"“He (Phelps) swam in a different time that I did. I couldn’t swim competitively and make money. The odds are had I had the opportunity to continue in my sport and make money I would have swam in the Montreal Olympic games, my sponsors would have wanted me to be out there in the forefront. He has got that interesting phenomena that I never had which allowed him to be in four Olympic games, I was in two, therefore he was able to win that many more medals because he was exposing himself on an ongoing basis.”"
Despite being away from the pool after his six month suspension, Spitz believes Phelps can still be a major factor in the sport.
"“I think he is going to be very competitive. I don’t think he is going to swim in as many events because he doesn’t have to, but the ones that he picks and chooses will put him on relay teams. He has to swim the 100-meter freestyle and will probably win the 100-meter butterfly if he can stay healthy.”"
At the Arena Pro Series in Arizona, Phelps will swim the 100-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley and 400-meter freestyle over the course of three days. As Phelps makes his way to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, Spitz will be watching along with many other both casual and diehard swim fans.
"“From a selfish point of view I think it is great. The television networks I’m sure are very happy about it. The olympic movement is probably happy about it. Other than a swimmer and he was in my event, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but that is only going to affect a few people. The greater cause of human interest, I’m glad he is still swimming.”"
Spitz has worked with Laureus for over 15 years since its inception raising money to help underprivileged youth benefit from sport. Living in the USA, has allowed Spitz to promote the sport for good across the nation.
The Laureus Sports Awards will air April 26th at 2 ET on NBC.
Check out the entire interview below:
More from FanSided
- Joe Burrow owes Justin Herbert a thank you note after new contract
- Chiefs gamble at wide receiver could already be biting them back
- Braves-Red Sox start time: Braves rain delay in Boston on July 25
- Yankees: Aaron Boone gives optimistic return date for Aaron Judge
- MLB Rumors: Yankees-Phillies trade showdown, Mariners swoop, India goes to Seattle