May 14 - Michael Phelps, the man widely considered the greatest swimmer of all time, has revealed he has rediscovered his passion for the sport ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games having become disillusioned following his phenomenal success at Beijing 2008.
The 26-year-old from Baltimore (pictured top) made history when he won an astonishing eight titles, more than any other athlete at a single Games, to bring his overall Olympic medals haul to 16 medals, 14 of which were gold.
But Phelps initially confessed that he did not want to compete at London 2012, which will be his final competition before retirement, because he had lost his passion for the sport.
"Really, after 2008, I just didn't want to do it," Phelps said here at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit.
"I knew deep down inside I wanted to, but I probably just didn't want to put in the work.
"There were times when I just wouldn't come to practice.
"It didn't excite me, it wasn't interesting and I was just going through the motions."
But Phelps admits that he eventually began to enjoy swimming again, even though he is not entirely sure why.
"It really was all about me being able to find the passion again," he explained.
"It was just something I had to try to find for myself and something Bob [Bowman, his long-time coach] couldn't give me.
"I guess you can only tell me so much."
But after a year that saw Phelps put in almost no training, he returned in 2010 woefully out of shape and was consistently crushed by his arch-rival, Ryan Lochte, the pair reportedly having a great dislike for each other.
"I put myself in the spot to not swim the times I wanted and he [Lochte] was just kind of rolling over me," said Phelps.
"In 2010, it was kind of like, whatever.
"But last year [when Lochte beat Phelps at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai] it actually meant something.
"It super-frustrated me and I'm going to do everything I can to try to fight back in London.
"Hopefully I didn't get too far behind where I can't make up some of the ground.
"Ryan and I are going to have our hands full with each other this summer."
Phelps still has not revealed which events he will be competing in at London 2012 and that will not become clear until the US swimming trials next month in Omaha; however, he definitely will not be doing eight events again.
Lochte has tried to goad his great teammate into facing him in a head-to-head in the 200 metres individual medley – the event in which he beat Phelps at last year's World Championships – but Bowman said Phelps is unconcerned by any of the talk.
"I don't know that we need to give the competition any more ammunition than they already have," he said.
Meanwhile Phelps has one more record in his sights at London 2012 as he strives to overtake the only athlete with more overall Olympic medals, Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina (pictured) who has 18 garnered in three Games between 1956 and 1964.
Three medals will see Phelps surpass her tally and the American recently met the Russian legend at a photoshoot in New York.
"Sometimes I guess you do see records and you use that as motivation," he said.
"So I think in a way it is kind of cool that there is a possibility to rewrite history.
"Once I hang my suit up, I want to be able to look back and say, 'I've done everything I could in my career'."
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