Phelps ready to lap up frills now
RIO DE JANEIRO
MICHAEL Phelps knows where he is in an Olympic pool and Rio's is no different.
The United States superstar, owner of 18 Games golds, felt the familiar kick of adrenaline when he trained at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium for the first time.
But in his fifth Games, Phelps is, in many ways, in uncharted waters. An elder statesman at 31, he said he is "extremely honoured" by his selection to carry the US flag in today's opening ceremony.
"I think I had the biggest smile on my face that you could possibly find," he added.
The tunnel vision required for his prior multiple-medal campaigns, including his astonishing eight-gold haul in Beijing, did not leave room for such Olympic frills as the opening ceremony - he has never walked in it before.
Nor was he much of a mingler in the athletes' Village, where the stars and star-struck from around the globe come together in the quintessential Olympic experience.
"Before, I would have my headphones on and never talk to anybody, that's literally how I was," Phelps said.
"I'm a lot more open now and more relaxed now."
Although he has repeatedly insisted that Rio will be his last Olympic hurrah, he could not resist leaving the door ajar as he spoke of his anticipation of having Boomer (his son) on hand for "my potential last Olympics".
"Just so you guys don't beat me to death if I come back," Phelps said. "I'm not but I'm going to say that."