Michael Phelps retired from swimming five years ago. Now, he gets to be a cheerleader at the Tokyo Olympics.
And it means a ton to have the greatest Olympian ever support your achievements, even with Covid-19 social distancing requirements. That’s what Phelps and his wife, Nicole, did to cheer on the U.S. women’s silver medal in the 4×200-meter free relay Wednesday night at the Tokyo Olympics.
He and Nicole were masked up and sitting in the stands of the Tokyo Olympics Aquatic Center. The couple took a selfie with the women’s team standing in the background. The swimmers had just returned from the podium. They were wearing their medals and still carrying their sunflower bouquets.
“Congrats ladies!” Michael Phelps posted. Nicole wrote something similar “Proud of you ladies!!!”
And after the Phelps snapped the selfie, one of the American swimmers tossed him her Tokyo Olympics bouquet. He still has a massive amount of respect.
American Relay Didn’t Win Gold, But It Still Was One of Best Swims at Tokyo Olympics
There were reasons to be proud. Everyone assumed the Australians would win gold at the Tokyo Olympics event. Instead, it was the Chinese women who surged ahead.
Katie Ledecky, who’d won gold in the 1,500-meters, anchored the relay. When she started her leg, the United States was in third place, two seconds behind China and 1.5 behind the Aussies.
Ledecky’s relay split was 1 minute, 53.76 seconds. It was the fastest leg of any that night. She churned past Leah Neale, who was Australia’s anchor. And she nearly caught up with Li Bingjie of China. The Americans were within .4 seconds from gold in a race that took more than 7:40 to swim. The top three all swam under world record time, but only the Chinese get to claim the new standard.
Allison Schmitt led off the American relay. It was her first finals swim of the Tokyo Olympics and the 10th medal of her career. That put her in fourth among American Olympians. Ledecky picked up the ninth of her career and third for the Tokyo Olympics. She’s now fifth among American Olympians.
So yes, Michael and Nicole Phelps had plenty of reasons to be proud of the women’s relay team, even if the group didn’t take gold.
Michael Phelps swam in four Olympics, winning 28 medals — 23 Gold · 3 Silver · 2 Bronze. He still owns four world records, including the 4X200 men’s relay he set with his American teammates.
He still sticks close to swimming. Phelps owns his own lines for swim and training gear. He does philanthropic work through his foundation. He started it with a $1 million bonus he won from the 2008 Olympics. Phelps also is a loud advocate for the mental health of athletes.
Phelps is doing TV work for NBC at the Tokyo Olympics, offering analysis only the grandest champion can provide. Plus, he and Nicole, who are the parents of three kids and two dogs, get to be Olympic tourists for the first time.