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Keeping cool with Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps
Swimming sensation Michael Phelps
How's this for pressure?

You're 19 years old, America's number one swimmer and competing in eight events at the Olympics.

And your fans - and the media - expect you to win them all!

Welcome to the world of Michael Phelps - winner of six world and six Olympic titles, holder of three world records, and one of the best all-round swimmers on the planet.

In 2000, aged 15, he became America's youngest Olympian for almost 70 years, reaching the final of the 200m butterfly.

Michael Phelps
Phelps is cool under pressure

Four years on, he was expected to clean up, and came away with an incredible haul of six gold and two bronze medals.

For most people that would be considered an amazing achievement, but when it comes to Phelps expectations are always incredibly high.

Not that the man himself is affected - the 6'4" teenager is taking everything in his stride.

"You can look at pressure in two different ways," says Phelps. "It's either going to hurt you or help you.

"I see it as something that helps me. If there's pressure on me or someone thinks I can't do something, it's going to make me work even harder.

"I guess it'll give me that little extra edge - that extra fire that I need."

The Spitz factor

Ask any American swimming fan to name their country's greatest ever swimmer and you'll probably get the same answer every time: Mark Spitz.

In 1972 Spitz won a record seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics. Before the games, Phelps had to contend with one question - could he equal that record?

Mark Spitz
US legend Mark Spitz

"My goal is to get one gold medal," he says.

"You've got to start somewhere and after coming back from Sydney with nothing I think that's the place to start."

For now, Spitz's record remains in tact. But with more gold medals to fight for and a long career ahead, expect Phelps to break records for many years to come.

The Phelps facts
Born: 30 June 1985, Baltimore, USA
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 195 lb
Coach: Bob Bowman
Career highlights: Named 'Swimmer of the Year' at the 2003 World championships
Became the only swimmer in history to break five world records at a single meet
Current world records: 200m fly, 200m and 400m individual medley

Open Quote
What other people want to project on him really doesn't factor on to his decision making or demeanour at all. I expect him to be very confident and to step up and do a great job.
Close Quote
Bob Bowman
Phelps' coach

:: Michael Phelps' official site

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