• London Olympics 2012

Phelps opts not to try and repeat eight-gold haul

ESPN staff
July 2, 2012
Michael Phelps will compete in seven events at London 2012 © PA Photos

United States swimmer Michael Phelps has decided not to compete in the 200 metres individual freestyle at London 2012 this summer, ending any ambitions he had of equalling his eight-gold medal haul of Beijing four years ago.

Phelps became the first person ever to win eight golds at an individual Olympic Games with his scintillating swimming in China in 2008, and gave himself the chance to repeat the feat in London this summer after successfully qualifying for a full slate of events at the recent American trials.

However, Phelps' coach Bob Bowman announced on Monday that the 27-year-old will not compete in the 200m individual free at the Olympics - preferring to concentrate on producing his best in the other events rather than attempt to repeat his past achievements and risk spreading himself too thin.

"Michael Phelps will be removing the individual 200 freestyle from his Olympic program," Bowman said on Twitter. "This will give him a full slate of seven events.

"This change will allow him to focus more energy on relays for Team USA."

US head coach Gregg Troy subsequently confirmed the decision.

Phelps' chances of claiming eight more golds were already considered to be in some doubt, with compatriot Ryan Lochte emerging as a strong contender in many of his favoured events - although Phelps beat Lochte in three of their four head-to-head meetings at the recent US trials.

Lochte won the 400m IM final - although Phelps triumphed in the final of the event he has now dropped, the 200m free.

Phelps - the most successful Olympian of all time, having also won six golds in 2004 - was initially surprised when reminded that he had qualified for eight events this summer, suggesting he had not planned to try and repeat his previous performance.

"I actually thought I would never try it again," said Phelps last week, recalling a conversation he then had with Bowman. "I was like 'Wait a minute, essentially it's going to be eight again.'

"And he [Bowman] was like, 'Yeah, you didn't think about that?'"

Another American swimmer will also be competing in seven events - 17-year-old Missy Franklin.

"I can't believe I have seven events," Franklin said. "It's so overwhelming but so exciting at the same time."

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