Michael Phelps said on Friday that he was grateful for the chance to finish his glittering career on his own terms after setting a new Olympic record in Rio.
The 31-year-old became the first swimmer to win the same event at four consecutive Olympics when he claimed the gold medal in the men’s 200m individual medley late on Thursday.
“I’m just happy to be able to finish the way I wanted to,” Phelps said. “This has been a very special meet for me so far to finish my career.”
Thursday’s victory was Phelps’ 22nd Olympic gold medal as he continues to extend his record as the most successful Olympian of all time.
By Friday afternoon, the 31-year-old had already won each of his four finals in Rio so far: the 200m butterfly, the 4x100m freestyle, the 4x200m freestyle and the 200m individual medley - and he still had two events to go, the final of the 100m butterfly, and the 4x100m medley relay.
His final race, the 4 × 100-meter medley relay held on Saturday evening is where he won his 23rd Gold of his career.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s been a hell of a career,” Phelps said. “I said to Ryan [Lochte]: ‘Man how did we did we do all of these events in 2008 [at the Beijing Olympics]?’ My body is in pain. My legs are hurting. I’m tired. Some of my friends have sent some inspirational text messages that have helped.