Sports

Watch out for Phelps in Rio

Michael Phelps.

Can Michael Phelps swim his way back to the top of the sport?

According to Nathan Adrian, who won two Olympic golds alongside Phelps in Team USA's relay teams at the 2012 and 2008 Olympics, the 18-time gold medallist can make a splash at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

In town for the Prudential Singapore Swim Stars at the OCBC Aquatic Centre starting on Friday, Adrian had no doubts when The New Paper asked him if Phelps, who turns 30 next June, can reclaim his position as the world's greatest swimmer.

"Absolutely," said the 25-year-old American, without skipping a beat.

"I think he's at the top already, in the 100m butterfly at least. With more training, he can do extraordinary things."

Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time with 22 medals harvested over the last three Olympics, walked away from the sport after the London Games in July 2012, adamant he would not return to competitive swimming.

But, in April and following months of speculation he would make his comeback, he made his competitive return at a US Grand Prix series event in Mesa, Arizona.

Apart from his haul, Phelps also etched his name in Olympic history by breaking Mark Spitz's record for a single Olympics by winning a remarkable eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008.

He is still hungry for more.

LAST ASSAULT

In training, Phelps has been spotted with a swim cap with a "Rio 2016" logo emblazoned on it, suggesting he is preparing himself for one last assault in Brazil.

He will be 31 then, but Adrian is not surprised that his teammate wants another crack at Olympic glory.

After all, racing is part of Phelps' DNA, he said.

"Michael is a little bit of an outlier," said Adrian.

"He's a great racer and racing is what gets the best out of him.

"He has a certain drive in him that he absolutely hates to lose.

"All of us (elite swimmers) do, actually, and I don't think he hates to lose any more than any of us, but there's something that makes him tick that's just slightly different.

"He's very talented and has worked very hard to get where he is.

"The old saying goes 'hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard'. He has both."