- Full name Michael Phelps
- Birth date June 30, 1985
- Birth place Baltimore, USA
- Current age 31 years 116 days
- Height 6 ft 4 in
American swimming legend Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympic gold medallist of all time, with 14 to his name. He has many highlights in a glittering career but his undoubted crowning moment was when he broke Mark Spitz's record for gold medals in a single Olympics with eight in Beijing.
Phelps began swimming aged seven when his two older sisters joined a local swimming team. By the age of ten he had a national record for his age group and by the time he was 15 he was gearing himself up for a first appearance at an Olympic Games. In 2000, he left Sydney without a medal but it would only be a matter of time before he became a force to be reckoned with.
The following year, in 2001, Phelps became the youngest man to set a swimming world record when he triumphed in the 200m butterfly at the 2001 World Championships. And he quickly established himself as a major force when he became a world champion for the first time, breaking his own world record in the 200m butterfly at the World Championships in Fukuoka.
After more success at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships, Phelps bagged himself more golds at the Nationals in 2003, becoming the first American swimmer to win three different races in three different strokes at a national championship. Phelps' success-train showed no signs of slowing down as the American claimed four golds, two silvers and broke five world records at the World Championships.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Phelps dominated the rostrum, falling just shy of Spitz's incredible feat of seven golds. He won six gold and two bronze medals - all achieved before he had even reached his peak. The accolades kept coming as he picked up five golds and a silver at the 2005 World Championships and he finally tied Spitz's record with seven gold medals at the 2007 World Championships.
History was made at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Phelps surpassing Spitz's haul of seven golds. Victory in the 4x100m medley in a world record time sealed his eighth gold medal, with America holding off Australia and Japan to win in three minutes 29.34 seconds.
Phelps shortened his workload in 2009, preferring to focus on fewer individual events. Five golds and a silver at the World Championships showed he still had a lot to give and Phelps was back on the back pages with a stunning display at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships, when he scooped more gongs.
More recently, Phelps has gone on record as saying the London Olympics will be his final Games and that he will hang up his goggles when he turns 30.
Eclipsing Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at a single Games - set in Munich in 1972 - with eight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Pictured in the News of the World with a cannabis pipe. Phelps regretted the images, and said: "I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment."
"I told myself I will not swim over the age of 30 and I will not." Michael Phelps, February 2010
"Nothing is impossible. With so many people saying it couldn't be done, all it takes is an imagination, and that's something I learned and something that helped me." Michael Phelps, August 2008
Phelps wasn't exactly a natural when he first took to the water. He was "a little scared" to put his head under the surface, preferring to float around on his back. Unsurprisingly, the first stroke he excelled in was backstroke.
- Phelps refuses to rule out Rio return (Jul 29, 2013)
- Lochte tips Phelps for Rio comeback (Dec 11, 2012)
- Phelps coach to help British swimming review (Sep 11, 2012)
- Phelps signs off with Olympic gold No. 18 (Aug 4, 2012)
Bronze again for Adlington after stunning Ledecky swim (Aug 3, 2012)