Michael Phelps has eyes `firmly on London`

Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 08:53 AM IST

Ann Arbor: The latest step on Michael Phelps` road to the London Olympics brings the US Olympic swimming star back to familiar territory for the Eric Namesnik Michigan Grand Prix.

Phelps lived and trained in Ann Arbor prior to his unprecedented achievement at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he claimed eight gold medals to take his career tally to 14.

With the swimming World Championships in Shanghai looming later this year and the 2012 Olympics in London beckoning, Phelps was looking forward more than back.

"The light`s at the end of the tunnel," Phelps said. "There are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish, and that`s why I`m still here. If I didn`t want to accomplish them, I wouldn`t have come back."

Phelps will be joined in the field by other US Olympic stars including Natalie Coughlin, Jason Lezak and Ryan Lochte.

International swimmers entered include Brazilian Cesar Cielo, the Olympic 50m freestyle gold medallist and 50 and 100m freestyle world champion.

"It just shows that we`re all sort of trying to prepare ourselves as best we can for World Championships and try to really get ready and geared up for next year," Phelps said.

Phelps had a quiet 2010, as Lochte emerged as America`s most dominant male swimmer. Phelps`s coach, Bob Bowman, went so far as to dub Lochte was the best swimmer in the world last year.

Phelps admitted that returning to the grinding training routine that brought him Olympic glory wasn`t easy.

"Trying to get back into the routine... it`s just the little challenges, when you don`t do them for a while, it`s hard to get back on it," Phelps said. "I`ve been able to make a lot of good improvements."

Despite the difficulties, Phelps said he didn`t want to leave the sport wondering if he could have accomplished more.

"I know deep down inside that I`ve never wanted to have that `what-if` in the back of my head," Phelps said. "Once I retire, I want to be able to say, `I`ve done everything I`ve wanted to do, and I`m happy.`"

Certainly Phelps has been gathering steam this year. At the Indianapolis Grand Prix last month he defeated Lochte by more than two seconds in the 200m individual medley, departing Indy with five victories in five events.

He`s entered in seven events in Michigan, but was cagey about his precise plans for the meeting that starts on Friday.

"Who knows what will really happen, but that`s the rumor," Phelps said. "It should be fun."

Bureau Report