RIO DE JANEIRO – Athletes idolize Michael Phelps. But that doesn’t mean Michael Phelps doesn’t also have his own sports idols.
The most successful athlete in Olympic history said he met one of them for the first time in the Rio Olympic Village on Wednesday morning – Novak Djokovic, currently the No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player in the world.
“I was walking back from an interview this morning and he was walking past me, and I was like, ‘Hey, that’s Djokovic.’ You usually give each other the nod and the smile, but I was like ‘I’m going to say hi,’” said Phelps, who said he’s a huge tennis fan.
So the 6-foot-4 swimmer from the U.S. met the 6-foot-2 tennis star from Serbia for the first time.
“We kinda ended up just talking. We talked about the event schedule and when he was competing, when I was competing. Took a photo. Wished each other good luck, and walked away,” said Phelps.
Hopefully they get more time together, so Phelps could give Djokovic some tips on his butterfly.
“He’s super down to earth and easy to talk to,” said Phelps. “For me, it was something that was cool to see. I’ve watched a lot of his matches on TV, and he’s had some epic ones. Definitely a very talented athlete and someone who was fun to run into.”
Phelps said that in the past, he hasn’t been one to offer that “idol moment” to other athletes, as he’d keep his headphones on and stay in the zone during previous Olympics.
But with the Rio Games expected to be his last hurrah, and with his personal life in order, Phelps said he hopes to interact with more competitors in the Olympic Village.
“I’ve been able to enjoy life. I’ve been able to experience things that I took for granted in the past. This ride that I’ve been on, I’ll forever be thankful for,” he said.