‘It’s our life’: Michael Phelps offers perspective on Olympic postponement

Michael Phelps
TODAY
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Michael Phelps tried to put himself in the position of Tokyo Olympic hopefuls, who must wait another year for the start of the Games.

“It’s our life,” Phelps said on TODAY on Monday. “I’ve tried to replay what I would be going through emotionally at this very time if I was still competing. It’s hard to really kind of comprehend it.”

Phelps, who retired after the Rio Games with a record 28 Olympic medals and 23 golds, urged athletes to find the positive in the postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You go through something for four years. We kind of know exactly when it’s going to to come, and our bodies are ready for it, and then we have to wait,” he said. “The biggest thing now is everybody to look at this as an opportunity, an opportunity for another year, fine-tuning some small things that are going to help you make a big difference.”

In interviews two weeks ago, reacting to the postponement announcement, Phelps stressed focus on the mental health of athletes.

“I really, really hope we don’t see an increase in athlete suicide rates because of this,” Phelps told NBCSports.com’s Tim Layden. “Because the mental health component is by far the biggest thing here. This postponement is uncharted waters. We’ve never seen this before. It was the right decision, but it breaks my heart for the athletes.”

Phelps, so open about his battle leading into Rio, said he still struggles with depression and anxiety and has a therapist. A day or two in the last three weeks has been difficult for Phelps, who at the same time is cherishing his extra time at home with his wife and three young boys.

“If you are in a spot where you need help, to reach out and ask for help,” Phelps said when asked the advice he is giving people. “It was something that was very difficult for me to do.”

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