BALTIMORE: Michael Phelps, the US swim star who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, will decide in the next two months whether or not he will compete at the 2012 London Olympics.
Phelps, suspended for three months by USA Swimming after a picture of him with a marijuana pipe was published by a British newspaper last week, will make his decision before climbing back into the pool for his next competitive race.
“It will take a few months,” Phelps told the Baltimore Sun. “I’ll give it 30 or 60 days. I think it will be better.
“I’m already happier now than I was, just having some part of my life back to normal, being able to swim again, having fun, joking around.”
Phelps, 23, is pondering his future after a media frenzy that followed the publication of the photograph from a party in South Carolina, one that cost him a sponsorship from cereal-maker Kellogg, whose deal expires at month’s end.
Phelps has been working out here in his hometown, where children clamour for his autograph and to have pictures taken with him, even after the uproar and the sleepless nights that followed.
“I’m not feeling too good physically, but I’m actually able to sleep now. I had a real hard time sleeping over the last two weeks or so,” Phelps said. “Just swimming and thinking about everything going on. Everything is back to what I call normal, I guess.”
Whether Phelps wants to swim at an Olympics in the nation where his troubling photo was published is uncertain, but the swim star said he has been able to laugh at being the butt of jokes over the matter.
“Unemployment is high. Foreclosures are high. Michael Phelps is high,” joked comedian David Letterman.
Phelps went from hosting the season opener of Saturday Night Live to being a punch-line for the famed US sketch comedy television show, which took issue with Kellogg dropping Phelps and the person who took the photograph.
“If you’re at a party and you see Michael Phelps smoking a bong and your first thought isn’t ‘Wow, I get to party with Michael Phelps’ and instead you take a picture and sell it to a tabloid, you should take a long, hard look in the mirror,” cast member Seth Meyers said during the Phelps-related segment.
“I saw the SNL skit and I was just dying. We definitely got a huge kick out of it,” Phelps said. “My mom saw it, my sisters saw it, and everyone was e-mailing each other and sending each other the link, so it was pretty good.” — AFP