Michael Phelps made it clear that he would not backtrack on his decision to quit swimming after the Rio Olympics following his shocking defeat in his final individual race on Friday.
Phelps was inevitably asked the golden question that is on everyone’s mind after missing out on his fifth gold of the Games following his defeat by Singapore’s Joseph Schooling in the 100m butterfly on Friday, and dead-heating with Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh for silver.
"Nope, done," he said when asked whether or not he will compete at the 2020 Olympics.
"I'm not going four more years. I'm standing by that. I've been able to do everything I've ever put my mind to in the sport -- 24 years in the sport.
— Habib Raza (@habibraza44) August 13, 2016
Michael Phelps is an inspiration to 31-year-olds everywhere who've flirted with retirement but bravely continued on.
— Ashley Mayer (@ashleymayer) August 12, 2016
"I'm happy with how things finished," added Phelps, who will retire as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history with 27 medals, a staggering 22 of them shiny gold.
"That's why I came back after 2012. I didn't want to have a 'what if?' 20 years later. Being able to close the door on this sport the way I wanted to, that's why I'm happy now."
Phelps, 31, had considered retirement after the London Olympics and also when his career was threatened to end in humiliation two years ago when he was arrested for drunk driving.
He looked like nothing could stop him in Rio, right up until Asian champion Schooling thrashed him in the 100m fly, an event he had won at the past three Olympic Games.
In the year 2060, Michael Phelps will come out of retirement to win more gold medals at the Olympics while swimming in a wheelchair
— Public Protester (@Pasco_e) August 13, 2016
— Lauren (@LAAAWEEN) August 10, 2016
"I'm ready to retire and I'm happy about it," said Phelps, looking forward to marrying girlfriend Nicole Johnson later this year and having the chance at spending more time with his baby son Boomer, who was in Rio to watch his dad race.
"I'm in a better state of mind this time than I was four years ago. I'm ready to spend some time with Boomer and Nicole and watch the little dude grow."
There was even a feeling of brotherhood in the air between Phelps and fierce rival le Clos following a war of words between the two swimmers since London, where the South African narrowly defeated Phelps for gold in his pet race, the 200m fly.
Phelps, who exacted revenge on le Clos in Rio, held hands with Cseh and his arch rival, as the three men stood awkwardly together on the same step of the podium.
"I think it was a bit long we were holding hands," smiled le Clos. "It was about three minutes. We were on the podium and it just happened -- it almost felt like a relay!"