Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps tokyo delay
Getty Images

Michael Phelps narrated film, ‘The Weight of Gold,’ on Olympians, mental health, sets premiere

Leave a comment

“The Weight of Gold,” a documentary about Olympians’ mental health challenges narrated by Michael Phelps, debuts July 29 on HBO.

Phelps believes he experienced a state of depression after each of his five Olympics. He first shared his mental-health struggles in 2015, saying he spent days curled in a fetal position, “not wanting to be alive anymore,” following his September 2014 DUI arrest, according to a Sports Illustrated cover story.

Phelps became a mental-health advocate since his 2016 retirement. He partnered with Talkspace and appeared in a film, “Angst,” to share his story of being bullied and depressed, leading to severe anxiety.

“For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person,” Phelps, an executive producer for “The Weight of Gold” alongside director Brett Rapkin, said in an HBO press release. “When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of, or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition. In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s OK to not be OK. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”

“The Weight of Gold” also features Olympic medalists bobsledder Steven Holcomb and aerials skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, who both battled depression during their careers. Holcomb died in his sleep in May 2017 at age 37. Peterson committed suicide in July 2011 at age 29.

Holcomb was the genesis for the documentary. Rapkin interviewed the bobsledder in 2017 for a film on Holcomb’s return from a degenerative eye condition and a 2007 suicide attempt to win an Olympic title in 2010. Twelve days after the interview, Holcomb was found dead.

Rapkin decided to expand his project to cover U.S. Olympians across several sports, telling stories of mental health battles. Other Olympians in the film include Shaun WhiteGracie Gold, Sasha CohenBode MillerDavid Boudia, Lolo JonesJeremy Bloom and Katie Uhlaender.

MORE: Ian Thorpe: I wish Michael Phelps was a bit older

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Ian Thorpe: I wish Michael Phelps was a bit older

Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ian Thorpe, the world’s best swimmer before Michael Phelps came along, reflected on his rivalry with Phelps, his early retirement and more on a podcast with Australian Olympic teammate and swim coach Brett Hawke published Monday.

Thorpe won his first world title at age 15 in 1998, then earned three gold medals and two silvers as one of the most scrutinized athletes at the Sydney Games in 2000.

His Olympic career ended at age 21 in 2004, when he won another two gold medals, including the “Race of the Century” 200m freestyle final over Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Phelps. Phelps was 19 at the time.

“I may regret saying this, but I kind of wish Michael Phelps was kind of a little bit older,” Thorpe said on the podcast. “It would have challenged me. I would have had someone else there.”

Phelps revered Thorpe’s ability to perform under pressure as a teenager. Phelps also took motivation from Australian swim coach Don Talbot waving off suggestions that he could challenge Thorpe’s supremacy in the early 2000s.

Phelps’ ascension compared to Thorpe showed at the 2003 World Championships. Phelps, among three individual titles, won the 200m individual medley in 1:56.04, taking 1.9 seconds off his own world record at the meet. Thorpe earned silver in an Australian record, but a full two body lengths and 3.62 seconds behind.

Thorpe didn’t swim the 200m IM at the 2004 Olympics, but Phelps ventured into his territory by entering the 200m free and coming away with a hard-earned bronze in an American record.

“I have the utmost respect for Michael, what he was doing in [individual] medley, but then when he started doing it in freestyle as well, that is when I really went, wow, he was extraordinary,” said Thorpe, who called van den Hoogenband his toughest competitor (Thorpe and van den Hoogenband dueled more often than Thorpe and Phelps). “I wish that, you know, our careers overlapped a little bit more than what they did. … It’s like, be careful what you wish for, right?”

Thorpe intended to go for the 2008 Beijing Olympics after a break from swimming, but he never again swam on the major international stage, announcing retirement in 2006.

“There was no privacy around me being able to train,” Thorpe said. “When it came that I was getting papped at training, I was like, if I can’t even have this to myself, I don’t want the other part of it.”

Thorpe also said that he wanted to train through the Olympic cycle and skip the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, but that “quite a few people” said he needed to race worlds if he had 2008 Olympic intentions.

“I moved on,” Thorpe said. “I made a decision that, yeah, I wouldn’t swim anymore because I wanted to feel like I had my life back.”

Thorpe’s enduring greatness can be measured in the fact that his 400m free personal best from 2002 remains the second-fastest time in history, bettered only in 2009 by .01 by German Paul Biedermann, who was racing in a now-banned super suit.

But Thorpe said it’s the men’s 200m freestyle that has become stagnant. None of the top 11 times in history were recorded in the time since the 2012 Olympics. Thorpe’s best time — from 2001 — would have won each of the last four world championships and the 2016 Olympic title.

“Basically, everyone in the world is swimming the 200m freestyle the wrong way,” he said. “You cannot swim easily for 150 meters, and then go into a sprint. I don’t care who your coach that is telling you that, you’re going to limit what time you can potentially do. At the moment, while the entire field sits across at the same speed, anyone who steps up in this race will win it if they’re within that realm. If you’re in the final at the moment, you can win at the Olympics next year. It’s about putting more speed into the earlier part of it, and it’s about making yourself hurt more. You have to be willing to deal with the pain that is going to exist for the last 50 meters.”

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

How many calories Michael Phelps consumed as a swimmer

Leave a comment

Michael Phelps liked to say it was a myth that he ate 12,000 calories a day.

“It’s just not true,” Phelps wrote in “No Limits,” one of his autobiographies. “Maybe eight to ten thousand calories per day.”

Phelps’ legendary eating — to fuel training several hours per day, 365 days a year, including Christmas — included frequent stops to eateries in his native Baltimore and, leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a training base at the University of Michigan.

Per Phelps’ other autobiography, “Beneath the Surface,” a typical order at Pete’s Grille in Baltimore: “Start with three sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions and mayonnaise; add one omelet, a bowl of grits and three slices of French toast with powdered sugar; then wash down with three chocolate chip pancakes.”

He ate out like a family of four but still couldn’t crack 200 pounds. Before the Beijing Olympics, a broadcast crew visited a Chinese restaurant, a deli and a diner to get the lowdown on his chowing down.

“I don’t cook — at all,” Phelps said in the NBC TV profile. “I was told that I was supposed to eat between eight and 10,000 calories a day. I just sort of try to cram whatever I can into my body. It’s pretty much whatever I feel like eating, I’m going to eat.”

MORE: Phelps, Bowman rewatch Beijing Olympic races for first time

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!