Michael Phelps

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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Michael Phelps has not committed to making a run for Rio 2016, but if he does suit up in Brazil next year, he will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics.

Here’s a look back at Phelps’ first Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, courtesy of NBC footage, newspaper reports and autobiographies:

Phelps, with braces on his bottom teeth, walked onto the pool deck at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials at the Indiana University Natatorium listening to a CD of his favorite rapper, DMX.

At trials, the boy who sprouted four inches in the previous year to 6 feet, 3 inches, came second to 1996 Olympic silver medalist Tom Malchow in the 200m butterfly, earning a spot on the Olympic team.

“He doesn’t know what it means to go to an Olympics,” Malchow said then, according to newspaper reports. “He doesn’t know how it’s going to change his life. He’s going to find out soon.”

Phelps became the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since the Great Depression, when Ralph Flanagan made it to Los Angeles 1932 at age 13. In 2000, Phelps reportedly shaved his face maybe once or twice a month.

Phelps flew to Brisbane for a pre-Games camp, where he stayed out of trouble with a 10 p.m. curfew. Once in Sydney, he made several mistakes befitting a boy of his age.

Phelps roomed in the athletes’ village with 17-year-old Aaron Peirsol, a Californian whose use of the word “sweet” stuck with Phelps.

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Phelps listening to a CD while walking out to race in Sydney.

They played James Bond and Tony Hawk video games during free time, but while alone Phelps tried to fire up the game system himself. Not knowing the electricity conversion between the U.S. and Australia, he fried one of the games, according to the first of his autobiographies, “Beneath the Surface.”

Phelps proved much smoother in the pool at the electric Sydney Aquatic Center.

He looked up and saw some 18,000 people at his first-round heat and then swam a personal best to win over a field including defending Olympic champion Denis Pankratov of Russia.

“Boy, this guy’s going to be great one day,” NBC Olympics analyst Rowdy Gaines said on the broadcast.

In the semifinals that night, Phelps again clocked a personal best. And again, he swam with his waist-to-knees jammer swimsuit strings untied.

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Phelps with his suit strings untied before his Olympic debut.

“I just don’t think I’ve ever seen such poise in a 15-year-old boy,” Gaines said on the broadcast.

The next night, coach Bob Bowman wanted Phelps to arrive 2 1/2 hours before the final. But Phelps missed that mandate by 90 minutes. He took Peirsol’s athlete credential by mistake and had to go back to the athletes’ village to retrieve his own.

The final was at 4:20 a.m. Baltimore time. Phelps was obviously nervous. He did something you never see swimmers do during Olympic final introductions. He rose from his chair behind his starting block in lane six, walked past Russian Anatoly Polyakov to his right and up to Malchow in lane four.

“Let’s go baby, you can do this,” he told Malchow.

“I’m not sure what I was thinking,” Phelps said in his first book, “Beneath the Surface.” “I was kind of scared.”

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Phelps going up to Malchow seconds before the final.

Phelps was unaffected in the water, touching the wall in 1:56.50, which would have earned silver or gold at every previous Olympics. In Sydney, it put him in fifth place behind the winner Malchow. Phelps, in his trademark style, came back from being in last place after the first 50 meters.

Following the race, Malchow patted Phelps on the back and told him, “The best is ahead of you,” according to “No Limits,” another Phelps autobiography.

Phelps just about met Bowman’s pre-Games suggestion that he aim to cut one second off his personal best. He went .98 faster than at trials, where he also swam personal bests in all three of his 200m fly races.

Bowman put Phelps back in the pool for a workout the next day and reportedly gave his young phenom a piece of graph paper with “Austin WR” written in the margin.

The following March, Phelps became the youngest man to break a world record, doing so in the 200m fly at the spring nationals in Austin, Texas.

Michael Phelps’ potential record chases at Rio Olympics

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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