Phelps wants to win back 200m fly gold
OMAHA, UNITED STATES
MICHAEL Phelps is headed to a fifth Olympics in the event that launched his epic Games career - the 200m butterfly.
Phelps, whose record 22 Olympic medals include an astonishing 18 golds, won the 200m fly at the US Olympic swimming trials on Wednesday, and if the time of 1min 54.84sec left something to be desired, it got the job done.
"I'm checking a box off, being able to get on the team," said Phelps, who faded on the final lap but was able to hold off the determined Tom Shields, who took second in 1:55.81.
"With everything that's happened, being able to come back - this was probably harder than any swim I've had in my life," said Phelps, whose comeback after a brief post-London retirement was disrupted by a drink-driving arrest followed by a stint in rehab.
Phelps, who celebrates his 31st birthday yesterday, led at every turn.
Shields stuck with him and was on his shoulder coming off the turn for home.
The 200m fly was the event in which a teenaged Phelps set his first world record. His world mark of 1:51.51 - set at the tail end of the bodysuit era in 2009 - still stands.
He made his first Olympic team, in 2000, in the 200m fly.
Regaining the Olympic title he surrendered to Chad le Clos in London, in an event he long considered his baby, figures to be a strong motivator for Phelps in Rio.
However, le Clos will not be the only man standing in Phelps's way, with Hungary's Laszlo Cseh, Japan's Daiya Seto and Masato Sakai topping the world rankings.
Said Phelps who is also chasing Olympic berths in the 100m fly and 200m individual medley: "Just looking forward to hopefully swimming faster than what I swam here."