Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 Olympic medals to his name. However, when the swimmer went viral in 2016, it wasn’t for winning a medal. Phelps turned into a viral meme during the Rio Olympics after he was caught being angry before a race.
The most decorated Olympian in history was caught being visibly angry while preparing for a race. Recalling the viral images from the Olympics, Michael Phelps while speaking to Jimmy Fallon said that he instantly regretted it.
How the ‘angry Phelps’ face became viral
Michael Phelps was preparing for the 200m butterfly semifinal when he made the ‘angry Phelps’ face. It is pertinent to note that Phelps was due to go up against rival Olympian Chad le Clos. The South African swimmer had beaten Phelps at the same event in 2012.
Chad le Clos was seen shadowboxing during his own preparations before taking on Phelps at the event. Meanwhile, Phelps was spotted staring intensely into the void, with his hands closed while in his jacket hood up and headphones.
The swimmer recalled the incident in an interview with Jimmy Fallon. Phelps said that the ‘angry face’ was part of his preparation.
The ‘angry Phelps’ meme instantly blew up on social media. Speaking about the meme, Phelps revealed that he was sure someone would pick up that image. He told Fallon on The Tonight Show.
“The worst is—I was sitting in the ready room and I remember, like I always knew there’s always two cameras in the upper right-hand corner. As I’m making a face, I’m like, ‘Yup that’s on camera … someone will pick that up tomorrow.'”
The image became an instant hit with many sharing the meme on social media. Some even compared him to Hollywood villains, including Darth Vader. During the interview, Fallon even gifted Phelps a large size cutout of the image.
Michael Phelps’ illustrious career
The American swimmer’s name is a regular feature in conversations about legendary athletes around the world. Following a glorious career, Phelps first announced his retirement from competitive swimming in 2012 following the London Olympics.
In an interview, the American swimmer revealed that he was finding it ‘difficult’ to recover as his body was aging. He stated that he was dropping plans to compete in the next Olympics.
However, the ace swimmer reversed his decision and came out of his early retirement in 2016 to compete at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He added five gold medals to his tally and hung his boots for one last time following the Olympics.
Michael Phelps’ accolades in swimming have inspired millions around the world. Furthermore, Phelps’ revelations about his own mental health have helped shed light on the issues athletes face.