LONDON – Michael Phelps' mother Debbie received some unusual advice from Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe after consulting with him on how to handle her son’s retirement.
Debbie Phelps and Thorpe, who won nine Olympic medals before quitting at the age of just 23, had dinner together at a London restaurant Wednesday night and discussed how Phelps would go about transitioning into normal life when he retires from the sport after London 2012.
Thorpe has carved out a successful media and business career since hanging up his goggles, but he surprised Phelps' mother by suggesting her son continue his regular training routine even when he returns from the Games.
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"He should take about three months straight after the Olympics and just carry on training, get back in the pool and put some work in," said Thorpe, who is working as an analyst for the BBC and honoring sponsor commitments while in London. "Rather than just stopping, you let your body settle into a normal exercise routine gradually. It is good for your mind to think of what is the next stage."
Phelps announced before these games that he would be calling time on a career that saw him enter the Sydney Games in 2000 as a 15-year-old, and will always be remembered for his epic and historic eight-for-eight golden haul in Beijing’s Water Cube four years ago.
After a slow start in London, Phelps redeemed himself spectacularly, helping win gold for the U.S. in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay and then beating rival Ryan Lochte in the 200-meter individual medley. In the process, he bettered the all-time Olympic medal record previously held by Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina and now has an incredible tally of 16 golds, two silvers and two bronze medals.
"He has grown up in front of our eyes," Thorpe said. "And he has delivered more than anyone has expected. We still see the 15-year-old from Sydney and that is why we still see him as a child in some ways. He is a tremendous champion and it has been a pleasure watching his career – what a career, incredible."
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After missing out on Beijing, Thorpe attempted to come back to swimming for the London Games but missed out during the Australian trials.
He and the Phelps family have become close in recent years and it is expected that Thorpe will continue to be a source of advice for the swimmer as he moves into a new phase of his life.
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