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Friday, November 15, 2019

Michael Phelps

10 Greatest Olympian throwback photos

Simone Biles

Back before they were stars and famous athletes, those who competed at the Olympics and won gold medals for their country were just aspiring dreamers. Maybe they one day wanted to win gold. Maybe they one day wanted to be like their hero. But they all had dreams and began training at an early age to achieve them.

We know what these successful athletes look like now, but let’s take a look at what they used to look like too.

1. Michael Phelps at age 15

Michael Phelps was a mere Olympic “hopeful” from Baltimore when this photo was taken by the Baltimore Sun. That was before Phelps, 31, had even won his first Olympic medal.

Phelps went on to become the most decorated Olympian all-time with 28 medals, including 23 golds. His first Olympics experience came in 2000 when he was a member of the swimming team for the Summer Games in Sydney. He placed 5th in the 200m butterfly then. He went on to win three golds and a silver in the 200m fly event in future Olympics.

Phelps’ Olympics success includes 8 medals (six golds) in Athens; eight medals (all golds) in Beijing; six medals (four golds) in London; and six medals (five golds) in Rio.

As a bonus, here’s a June 2001 interview Phelps did with WJZ in Baltimore:

2. Simone Biles in 2004

Here’s a throwback photo Biles shared on social media that appears to be from Christmas 2004, which would have made Biles around seven years old.

Who knew that Biles, just a dreamer at the time, would go on to become possibly the greatest gymnast ever? That’s how many are regarding her after she won five medals in Rio, including four golds. The 19-year-old Texan has won a total of 19 medals in both Olympics and world championships, making her the most decorated American gymnast ever.

Biles needs three medals at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to surpass Shannon Miller for having the most Olympic medals in US gymnastics history.

3. Young Usain Bolt before he was an international sensation

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Dikembe Mutombo doesn’t mind Michael Phelps, Lilly King using his finger wag

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo’s signature finger wag has experienced a resurgence amongst American swimmers at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Fortunately, they appear to have the blessing of the four-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Mutombo came out on Friday and said that he’s cool with Michael Phelps, who waved his finger at South African rival Chad le Clos after beating him in the 200m butterfly, and Lilly King, who shook hers in disapproval at Russian counterpart Yulia Efimova, using his patented move.

“Copying my move, it really doesn’t bother me,” Mutombo said, per Nina Mandell of For The Win. “As long as they recognize who they got it from.

“I care more about who’s the best, who’s the best in the game, who’s the best in the competition,” Mutombo continued. “… I did it because I believed I was the best in the game. Nobody else could block a shot better than me, no one could dunk on me.”

The eight-time All-Star was significantly less understanding when former Raptors big man Bismack Biyombo tried busting out the move on the basketball court last postseason. But with Phelps and King winning a combined eight medals (seven of them gold) this summer, Mutombo probably figures they’ve earned the right to a wag or two.

Michael Phelps calls out reporter wearing Steelers gear at press conference (Video)

michael-phelps-steelers

Don’t wear Pittsburgh Steelers gear to a Michael Phelps press conference unless you want to get called out.

That’s exactly what happened to one reporter on Sunday, when he dared ask the Maryland native a question with some black and yellow involved.

“Is that a Steelers … Oh man. Golly,” Phelps said in disgust before spotting someone in Baltimore Ravens apparel. “There we go, there’s some Ravens. Man, Steelers.” He even shuddered for emphasis.

The Ravens fan got to ask his question first, and Phelps talked a little about the rivalry.

“I always think we’re going to beat Pittsburgh. That’s an obvious answer,” Phelps said. “I think one of the cool things about that is we always play each other really hard. As much as I’m not a Steelers fan, the games are really exciting and we get a lot of intense hits.”

How strong is Phelps’s bond with his homestate? The Ravens halted last Thursday’s preseason game against Carolina in order to watch Phelps race. Yeah, he is not here for the Steelers at all.

Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky recreate autograph photo from 2006

MIchael-Phelps-Katie-Ledecky-autograph

When Michael Phelps won his first gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Katie Ledecky was just 7 years old. Two years later, Ledecky scored an autograph from her inspiration.

Now that Ledecky is 19 and has won five gold medals of her own, roles have been reversed. Phelps wanted his U.S. swimming teammate’s autograph in Rio, so the two decided to recreate their now-famous photo from 2006.

Ledecky is already well on her way to being one of the most decorated swimmers in Olympic history. If you want to know how dominant she has been in Rio, just look at this photo. It’s amazing to see her now competing at Phelps’ level when you look back on their 2006 meeting.

Michael Phelps calls for harsher doping penalties: ‘Somebody needs to step up’

Michael Phelps finger wag

Having already accomplished virtually everything that there is to accomplish at the individual level, Michael Phelps is now trying to use his platform to bring some much-needed reform to the sport of swimming.

Phelps, who won five gold medals at the Rio Games to bring his record career Olympic total to 23, spoke with reporters on Sunday and took the opportunity to call for harsher doping penalties in swimming.

“[Dopers] should pay a price,” Phelps said per Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports. “Somebody needs to step up.”

For the 31-year-old Phelps, who competed in five Olympics and became the most decorated Olympian of all-time while never failing a drug test in his career, his word carries a lot of weight. With other notable swimmers like fellow American Lilly King calling for doping reform as well, hopefully this helps mount the public pressure to clean up the sport once and for all.

Ryan Lochte guarantees that Michael Phelps will compete in Tokyo 2020

Michael Phelps gold

It is widely believed — and stated by the man himself — that Rio 2016 will be Michael Phelps’s final Olympics. Ryan Lochte doesn’t think so.

In two separate interviews on Friday, Lochte predicted that he’d be seeing Phelps in Tokyo in 2020.

First, Lochte went as far as to guarantee on the Today Show that Phelps isn’t finished as a competitive swimmer.

“I guarantee he will be there,” Lochte said, via A.J. Perez of USA Today. “I think so. I really think so. So, Michael, I’ll see you in Tokyo.”

Lochte doubled down later in an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show.

“I was the only person who said this back in 2012 when he said he was retiring, and I was right,” Lochte said. “And I’m going say it again that he’s going to come back for 2020.”

In both interviews, Lochte also seemed to confirm that he intends to try to make it to Tokyo as well.

Interestingly, Phelps’s mother, Debbie, also told the Today Show that there was seemingly a chance of Phelps making another run at Olympic gold.

“That would be wonderful,” Debbie Phelps said. “I already have the race picked out.”

Phelps would be 35 in 2020, which makes it a big ask. Still, Phelps remains as good as ever, and he did say he was done after London 2012. Maybe he will go back on that one last time.

H/T CBS Sports

Michael Phelps fan gets tattoo of gameface

Michael Phelps gameface

Michael Phelps went viral earlier this week when he sat stone-faced before the 200m butterfly semifinals as South African swimmer Chad Le Clos tried to distract him. One fan enjoyed the moment so much he decided to preserve it in tattoo form.

In terms of artwork, the piece is actually pretty fantastic:

Phelps came in second in the semifinal but went on to blow Le Clos and the rest of the competition away to win yet another gold medal. We saw some creative memes born from the gameface (see them here), but we didn’t think anyone would take it serious enough to get a tattoo. That said, nothing surprises us at this point.