Michael Phelps revealed comeback to family with 3 a.m. voicemail

Michael Phelps, Hilary Phelps
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Hilary Phelps said her brother, Michael, revealed his comeback to the family via a 3 a.m. voicemail on April 15, 2013, she said while in India this week, according to the Times of India.

“The message said, ‘Pack your bags we are going on a trip,'” Hilary said, according to the newspaper, adding that it came after Michael had just bought a house in Mexico and that she still has the recording. “Just when we thought this was finally going to be the family vacation we had never taken, he added, ‘One more time. I’m going for Rio.'”

The news likely pleased mother Debbie, who had texted her son after Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympics on Oct. 2, 2009, pleading with Michael to go back on his planned 2012 retirement to try for a fifth Olympics.

The 22-time Olympic medalist kept his word in retiring after London 2012, but he then came out of a 20-month competitive retirement in April 2014.

Phelps has also spoken about revealing his comeback to longtime coach Bob Bowman in 2012 or 2013.

“It was like 9:30, 10 o’clock at night one day, and I called [Bowman],” Phelps said at the Doha Goals Forum in July. “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.”

Phelps publicly revealed his comeback on Nov. 14, 2013, after U.S. Anti-Doping Agency statistics showed he had re-entered a drug testing pool mandatory for competition. Bowman said Phelps had re-entered the drug testing pool between April and June 2013.

“If I decide to keep going and swim again, then I’ll compete,” Phelps told The Associated Press then. “If I don’t,” he added, letting out a big laugh, “I guess I’ll re-retire. Just don’t compare me to Brett Favre.”

Phelps has excelled in his comeback so far as the only U.S. man to post a world-leading time in an Olympic event in 2014 and 2015.

This year, he came back from a suspension as punishment following a 2013 DUI arrest to clock the world’s fastest 100m and 200m butterflies since 2009.

MORE MICHAEL PHELPS: Phelps’ potential record chases at Rio Olympics

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”