American Michael Phelps issued a warning to his rivals at the Shanghai world championships on Friday, claiming that a change in attitude has brought the “old feeling” back to him.
“I felt like you had to twist my arm to get into the pool,” the 14-time Olympic champion told reporters after a team training session on the Gold Coast. “I was like kicking and screaming not wanting to go to the pool. This year has changed a lot... I can’t stand to lose, so I had to change something.
“I needed to get out of that funk when I did because if I didn’t, I think it would have been too late,” he said after the US team’s training session at Gold Coast.
After nine years of dominating the pool, Phelps is grappling with a prolonged slump in form, having lost his pet 200 metres butterfly event three times this year.
The 26-year-old noticed a similar hunger in Australian Ian Thorpe, who is on the comeback trail ahead of next year’s London Olympics. “He (Thorpe) is somebody who is super-talented and when he retired (in 2006) I didn’t think it was true and I didn’t think it was real,” Phelps added.
“But obviously he found a hunger to want to come back and want to do it again and I think it’s going to be even better for the sport. “He’s the kind of person who if he wants to do something he’s going to make sure he will get it done,” Phelps added. The competition at the world championships runs from July 24-31.