Michael Phelps has two events left in what appears to be the final swims of his storied Olympic career: Friday night’s 100-meter butterfly and Saturday night’s 4×100-meter medley relay.
Fellow American swimmer Ryan Lochte, however, said those races where Phelps seeks to add to his record 22-gold medal haul may not be his last.
“I guarantee he will be there,” Lochte said on NBC’s TODAY show on Friday. “I think so. I really think so. So Michael, I’ll see you in Tokyo.”
Lochte has competed in the past four Olympic Games.
Phelps’ mother, Debbie, sounded bullish on her son competing in what would be his sixth Olympics where he’d be 35 years old.
“That would be wonderful,” Debbie Phelps said later in the broadcast. “I already have the race picked out.”
Bob Bowman, Phelps’ longtime coach, shot down talk that Phelps could make it back 2020 Tokyo Games. Phelps holds a record 22 gold medals (26 medals overall), the latest secured in the 200-meter individual medley final on Thursday.
“I just don’t see it happening,” Bowman said. “He’s in such a good place personally. He doesn’t need it.”
The 2012 London Games were supposed to be Phelps’ final Olympics as he retired from the sport. He announced his return two years later.
Lochte doubted in 2012 that the world had seen the last of Phelps at the Olympics.
“I think he will come back,” Lochte told The Telegraph at the time. “ He’s still young. I think he will be back for Rio. We’ll see, he’ll miss the sport.”