Michael Phelps on possible comeback: ‘We’ll see if I have that itch again’

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Michael Phelps routinely laughed off comeback questions in a media tour Tuesday, but he still hopes to watch the world championships in person in July.

And who knows if that competitive desire will rekindle this summer like it did four years ago.

“The true test will be, if I do end up going over to the worlds this summer, do I have that itch again?” Phelps said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

In 2013, then-retired Phelps attended worlds wearing a boot on his right foot due to a stress fracture suffered from playing golf. He laughed off a question then from NBC’s Dan Hicks about whether he had completely closed the door on a comeback. 

Turns out, Phelps had already re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug-testing pool (a sign of ending retirement) but wasn’t letting anyone in on that secret until November 2013.

Fast forward to now, and Phelps seems content not competing. He took his name out of drug testing in the fall.

Phelps attended last week’s USA Swimming meet in Mesa, Ariz., but didn’t race at the annual meet for the first time since 2013.

“It’s different now for me being on deck and watching compared to four years ago because I felt like I had the itch a little bit then, when I first retired,” Phelps said before a Today Show appearance Monday. “Now, I’m just like, yeah, I don’t miss it. I don’t miss getting in and warming up and being freezing when you get out of the pool or sitting at a meet for five or six hours a day. That’s not going to happen anymore.”

Phelps, who lives near Mesa with wife Nicole and 11-month-old son Boomer, spent the meet catching up with Olympic teammates Katie LedeckySimone ManuelLeah Smith and Nathan Adrian. And closely watching longtime training partner Chase Kalisz, whom he considers like a little brother.

Q&A: Phelps on meeting Bolt, swimming with sharks

He flew to New York this week to promote sponsor Colgate’s #EveryDropCounts water-conservation campaign, urging all to turn faucets off while brushing their teeth.

“You can waste up to four gallons of water, that’s ridiculous,” Phelps said. “Boomer isn’t brushing his teeth yet. It’s something so simple and so easy that we’re going to end up teaching him.”

Phelps may accompany Kalisz and other active swimmers and former coach Bob Bowman on an upcoming camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Phelps routinely flew to Colorado during his career to train at altitude.

But this time, he would purely be there to assist Bowman’s coaching.

“I won’t be a Bob-type coach, ever,” Phelps said.

Instead, Phelps pores over videos for Bowman, analyzing strokes.

“I can’t break it down to the other athletes, but I can break it down to [Bowman], and then he can break it down,” Phelps said.

Phelps said he knows how Kalisz can drop another couple of seconds off his 400m individual medley and his 200m butterfly. Kalisz took silver in the 400m IM in Rio.

For now, Phelps still handles the constant comeback questions with smiles and chuckles.

“I’m waiting for the time where my son finally asks me why I’m not swimming anymore,” he said.

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MORE: Ledecky plans world champs schedule

Paralympian Blake Leeper advances in 400m at USATF Outdoors (video)

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Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper, believed to be the first double amputee to race at a USATF Outdoor Championships, advanced out of the 400m heats in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Leeper ran 45.52, third in his heat, to grab the 16th and last spot in the 400m semifinals Friday (10:34 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

It marked a personal best by .58 of a second for Leeper, who was racing one day after his ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2015 ended.

“I wanted to advance, but if I don’t I have won already,” Leeper said before he learned he made the semis, according to USA Track and Field. “Just being here and showing everybody what you can truly do with a disability.”

Leeper ran faster than Olympians David VerburgKyle ClemonsArman Hall and Manteo Mitchell, who were all eliminated.

It’s likely that the top five or six in Saturday’s final will make the 4x400m team for the world championships in London in August.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

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Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships (video)

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U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced five months pregnant in 100-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

“People were like, oh, you’re going to run faster than you did last time because you’re less pregnant,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I was like, I’m still pregnant.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

In a Wonder Woman top, Montaño gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño said. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative of people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. Not everybody has the same platform that I do. I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Montaño said she was inspired when she learned Gal Gadot, who played the title role in the movie “Wonder Woman,” filmed half of it while five months pregnant.

“I saw Wonder Woman, and I was like, I for sure am signing up for USA Nationals,” Montaño said. “I already was thinking I was going to do it.”

Montaño said it wasn’t easier or harder racing Thursday versus three years ago, when she had a bigger baby bump.

“The weird part about five months is you’re still growing and like shifting a lot,” she said. “So every week you have to readjust.”

Linnea has seen enough photos of her mom’s famous race in 2014 to know what was going on.

“I go, mom is going to run with your sibling in her belly,” Montaño recalled. “I did that with you, too. And [Linnea] was like, ‘Yeah, it was sticking out!'”

Montaño raced outdoors for the first time since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. Montaño had won the previous Olympic Trials (and finished fourth in London) and the 2015 U.S. title coming back from pregnancy.

She ran without an apparel sponsor Thursday, frustrated that Asics waited until December to say they were not interested in retaining her for 2017. Montaño said that left her no time to try and find a different sponsor, even though she was already planning to have her second child.

“You need to let an athlete know in September, October,” she said. “I’ve been calling [Asics] since September to be like, hey, I didn’t make the Olympic team, I’m 30, I’m going to have another baby.”

In the men’s 800m Thursday, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

MORE: Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

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