Start up the rumor mills, folks.
Remember when we thought we'd never see Michael Phelps compete in the pool ever again? It seems like just yesterday Phelps, at 27 years old, was capping off yet another iconic Olympic performance last summer in London with four gold medals and two silvers. He told The Associated Press in December it was the perfect way to finish his legendary career.
"I wanted to leave that way," he told AP. "I'm sure I could come back in another four years, but why? I've done everything I wanted to do. There's no point in me coming back. Everybody is like, `You're going to come back.' And I'm like, `No, I'm not.' I've done everything I wanted to do in this sport. I don't know a lot of people who can say that."
But according to a report on Friday by WBBH TV in Fort Myers, Fla., Phelps will return to swimming and target the 2016 Olympics in Rio -- when he would be a ripe-old 31. The story -- which said "The greatest Olympian of all time isn't hanging up his swimsuit, after all" -- was published on the station's official website by news anchor Peter Busch, the son of US national swim team director Frank Busch.
Phelps hit Twitter Friday to pour some cold water on the unsourced report . . .
Why do I keep getting texts about coming back? Do ppl really believe everything they hear or read? There are ... m.tmi.me/VVJFR
-- Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) May 18, 2013
Busch responded with a tweet of his own . . .
Phelps just sent tweet insinuating that he's not coming back, but I feel very confident with my info. Guess we'll see.
-- Peter Busch (@peterbuschTV) May 18, 2013
Now, while longtime nemesis and reality TV wannabe Ryan Lochte decides to laugh or cry at the report, the possibility begs the question:
Could he do it? Could Phelps not only return to the sport, but in dominant, triumphant fashion -- like these sports legends who walked away from their respective sports, only to come back and reclaim top status ?
Or would Phelps become a big fail, a caricature of himself and eventually a national punchline? Plenty of top-notch stars have suffered failed sports comebacks .
Regardless, not many athletes have walked away from their sports at the top of their games and in the prime of their careers. But Phelps could join this list .
What do you think? Would you want to see Phelps make another run at adding to his historic career medal count of 18 golds and 22 overall Olympic medals. For one, Rowdy Gaines -- three-time Olympic gold medalist in his own right -- is all for it:
I told you so...sooner or later lets all hope it's true! capandgoggles.com/2013/05/17/mic...
-- Rowdy Gaines (@RowdyGaines) May 18, 2013
And just because, here's a flashback of some of Phelps' greatest moments: