Michael Phelps: I’ve looked at my 22 medals together once or twice

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The last two days in Los Angeles marked one of the greatest gatherings of Olympic legends outside of the Olympic Games.

The list included Michael Phelps, Carl LewisNadia Comaneci, Bart ConnerGreg LouganisApolo OhnoYuna KimMichelle Kwan, Scott HamiltonMeryl Davis, Hannah TeterAbby WambachJohn Carlos and Ato Boldon.

They came for the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony and the Doha Goals Forum. Here are excerpts from Phelps’ interview with Boldon, an NBC Olympics track and field analyst, and questions Phelps took from an audience at the Doha Goals Forum on Sunday:

On where he keeps his medals: I think there’s only one person, maybe a handful of people in this world who know where my medals are. … I probably have only looked at them about once or twice all together because there are so many other things that I want to do, whether it’s in the pool or out of the pool. My goals are nonstop.

On being at the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony: I stood right at the bottom of the tunnel and watched all the athletes come out. You could feel the energy that was coming out. … I guess I kind of thought back to what it would have been like if I was able to experience that [Phelps has never attended an Olympic Opening Ceremony, as athletes who compete in the first weekend of the Games often skip it]. … It just sent chills up my body.

On his comeback: It was like 9:30, 10 o’clock at night one day, and I called him [coach Bob Bowman]. I was like, “What do you think about me coming back?” He was like, “Call me in the morning.” So I called him the next morning, and he knew that I was for real. I got back to Baltimore, and we had a meeting, and he’s like, we’re going to do this the right way. That’s the way we’ve been doing it. I’m in a much better place now than I probably have ever been in my career.

On feeling less pressure: Going into 2012, I felt like I had to finish there. I had to make it to 2012. Now, I’m just having fun.

On being a Special Olympics global ambassador: As a kid, I was picked on. I was made fun of. … I used to remember kids flicking [my ears] in school. I can still remember to this day, I remember the teacher and her name in middle school who told me that I would never succeed in anything that I would ever put my mind to.

On Olympic memories: The first [gold medal] was one of the coolest [the 400m individual medley at the Athens 2004 Olympics in world-record time]. Sort of never, ever forgetting exactly where my mom and I shared that first gold medal through a chain-link fence in Athens, Greece, because I was unable to get to my mom. So I passed it through this little chain-link fence [while holding a peanut butter sandwich and telling his mom, “Look what I did,” as has been reported often since 2004]. I think 2008, probably 200m free. I look at that race, and today, still, and say that’s probably my best race I’ve ever swam in my life from start to finish. It was kind of over at 15 meters. I was in the best shape possible. My stroke was perfect. Everything about that race, to me, was the best. [Phelps broke his world record in that event by nine tenths of a second]

On his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000: I was so discouraged that I didn’t medal. I was fifth in my first Olympics at 15 [in his only race, the 200m butterfly]. I didn’t tie my suit. It was my first time out of the country. I was literally not prepared at all. But I wanted so much more, and I could never, ever settle unless I was the absolute best.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

On his inspirations: I looked up to Michael Jordan really as a kid because of what he did and how he changed the sport of basketball. That’s what I wanted to do in the sport of swimming. We’ve come a long way since 2000 and my first Olympic Games.

Michael Phelps, Hailey Cannaday star in ESPN ‘My Wish’ segment

Six months to Tokyo Paralympics: Ten athletes to watch

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Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch, six months out from the Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony on Aug. 25 …

Chuck Aoki (Rugby)
The U.S.’ top scorer, but still looking for a Paralympic title after bronze and silver medals in 2012 and 2016. Aoki’s father’s family is from Japan, immigrating to the U.S. in the early 1900s. His great-grandparents and grandparents were placed in World War II internment camps. Aoki switched from wheelchair basketball to rugby after seeing the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball.” He has been on the national team since 2009.

Shingo Kunieda (Tennis)
Japan is known for its tennis players (Naomi OsakaKei Nishikori), but Kunieda is by far the most accomplished. He owns a wheelchair record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 21 Grand Slam doubles titles and three Paralympic gold medals. Japan earned 24 medals at the Rio Paralympics, but they were all silver or bronze.

Oksana Masters (Cycling)
Already a Paralympic rowing and Nordic skiing medalist, Masters bids for a second Games to add a road cycling medal to her haul. In Rio, she placed fourth in the road race and fifth in the time trial. At her last Paralympics in PyeongChang, Masters came back from a fractured right elbow to earn five medals, including two golds.

Evan Medell (Taekwondo)
The U.S. has a medal contender in taekwondo, which debuted as an Olympic medal sport in 2000 and is on the Paralympic program for the first time in Tokyo. Medell, a 22-year-old licensed diesel mechanic, is ranked No. 1 in the world in the K44 +75kg division after 2019 titles at the European and Parapan American Championships.

Morteza Mehrzad (Volleyball)
Iran dominates men’s sitting volleyball. None of its players were more noticeable in Rio than the 8-foot, 1-inch Mehrzad, who led the team in scoring in the gold-medal match. Mehrzad was also part of Iran’s 2018 World title team, a signal that he could return for another Paralympics in Tokyo.

Becca Meyers (Swimming)
Earned three golds and one silver in individual events at the Rio Games, plus broke three world records. Meyers followed that with medals across three different strokes (plus the individual medley) between the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. She has trained at both the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and the Nation’s Capital Swim Club, which produced Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, respectively.

Becca Murray (Basketball)
The leading scorer on the U.S.’ Rio Paralympic champion team returned to the program in 2019 after two years away. Murray, who debuted at the Paralympics in 2008 at age 18 (and earned gold), looks to help the U.S. women bounce back from a 2018 World Championship sixth-place finish without her.

Daniel Romanchuk (Track and Field)
Eliminated in the heats of all his Rio Paralympic events as an 18-year-old. Now Romanchuk is a marathon superstar, winning the wheelchair division in Boston, Chicago, London and New York City in 2019. The University of Illinois product is expected to enter a range of distances in Tokyo, given he lowered 800m and 5000m world records on the track in his classification.

Allysa Seely (Triathlon)
Led a U.S. medals sweep in her classification in triathlon’s Paralympic debut in Rio. Followed with world championships medals in 2017 (silver), 2018 (gold in an undefeated season) and 2019 (silver).

Ben Thompson (Archery)
Upset the world No. 1 compound archer to win the world title in 2019. Ended the season with a No. 1 world ranking and Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year from the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Thompson competed in recent years with sister-in-law Megan‘s name on his arrow wraps. Megan fought breast cancer for years before her death in November as he was en route to the Team USA Awards.

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MORE: Memorable Paralympic moments from 2010s decade

2020 World Track Cycling Championships TV, live stream schedule

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The world track cycling championships offer an Olympic preview, live on NBC Sports Gold and also airing on Olympic Channel this week.

All five daily sessions, beginning Wednesday, stream live for NBC Sports Gold “Cycling Pass” subscribers. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA airs same-day delayed TV broadcasts.

The U.S. contingent is led by Chloé Dygert, a world champion on the track and the road who is trying to make the Olympic team in both disciplines. Dygert already qualified for Tokyo by winning the world title in the road time trial in September.

On the track, Dygert swept individual and team pursuit titles in 2017 and 2018 but missed last year’s worlds after a May 2018 concussion. She was part of the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medal team pursuit squad in Rio.

The U.S. has yet to win an Olympic women’s track cycling title. The individual pursuit is not on the Olympic program, but Dygert could anchor a potent team pursuit. The U.S. finished seventh without Dygert and the late Kelly Catlin at the 2019 Worlds.

The international field is led by married British couple Jason and Laura Kenny, who own 10 combined Olympic titles.

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Day Time (ET) Key Events Network
Wednesday 12:20 p.m. Team sprints NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Thursday 12:20 p.m. Team pursuits NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
8 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Friday 12:20 p.m. Women’s sprint, omnium NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
10:30 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Saturday 10:20 a.m. Women’s madison NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM
Sunday 7:50 a.m. Women’s keirin NBC Sports Gold | STREAM
5 p.m.* Olympic Channel | STREAM

*Delayed broadcast