RIO DE JANEIRO — Michael Phelps kept saying this would definitely be his final Olympics.
No chance of any more comebacks, right?
Not so fast.
During a news conference Wednesday, Phelps called Rio “my potential last Olympics.”
With that, the media in the packed interview room erupted in gasps and laughter, cutting off Phelps in mid-sentence as he talked about the chance to share the Olympics with his infant son, Boomer.
“Just so you guys don’t beat me to death if I come back,” he went on. “I’m not. But I’m just going to say that.”
Teammate and longtime rival Ryan Lochte, who is rooming with Phelps in the Olympic village, predicts the 31-year-old Phelps will be back in the pool for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I just have a weird feeling,” Lochte said. “Once you compete on this stage at the Olympics, that passion, that excitement, that thrill of racing the top people in the world, when that goes away, you miss it. You miss it really quick.”
Phelps initially retired after the 2012 London Games, but he changed his mind about a year later.
Lochte believes the same thing will happen after Rio.
“I think that’s why he came back,” Lochte said. “He missed it. He wasn’t done accomplishing what he wanted to accomplish in this sport. I don’t think he’ll be done after this one. I hope not.”