Michael Phelps vows not to drink until after the Rio Olympics – For The Win
While toiling away at a lesser swim meet in San Antonio while all his Olympic teammates are in Russia for the 2015 world championships, Michael Phelps was still able to make some news this week by vowing not to have another drop of alcohol until after the 2016 Rio Olympics, which start one year from today. Via Paul Newberry of the AP:
“Before I even went to court, I said to myself that I’m not going to drink until after Rio — if I ever drink again. That was a decision I made for myself. I’m being honest with myself. Going into 2008 and 2012, I didn’t do that. I didn’t say I was going to take a year off from drinking and not have a drink.”
Phelps was justifiably suspended for six months last fall after being arrested a second time for drunk driving. Yet, in a move that still makes little sense, U.S. Swimming also said that Phelps wouldn’t be able to swim for his country at the ongoing world championships, even though he qualified for them and they’re taking place four months after his original suspension ended. At that time — back in April — we wrote, “it’s like banning an NFL player for the preseason, letting him play 16 games and kicking him out again for the playoffs.”
The suspension, beyond it’s bizarre, specific exception, theoretically didn’t help Phelps as he tried to improve his life by starting therapy and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Wouldn’t an end goal of the world championships be a better motivator to stay on the straight-and-narrow than a second-rate meet in Texas? (Though the national championships are hardly a second-rate meet, they are when they’re at the same time as worlds.)
Good thing Phelps seems to have his head on straighter this time. Now 30, he realizes that the occasional beer while playing golf or watching football isn’t worth it.
“If I’m going to come back, I need to do this the right way,. I’ve got to put my body in the best physical shape I can possibly get it in. Is it a challenge? No. I go to bed earlier. I sleep more. I wake up every day and have a completely clear head. I don’t feel like my head went through a brick wall. There are so many positives to it.”
Better long-term wellness than short-term pool success, but you have to wonder whether U.S. Swimming would make the same decision on Phelps right now, as they sure seem to miss him in Kazan. Through four days of competition, the U.S. men have just two bronze medals and were shut out of the podium in the 200 fly, an event Phelps used to own.