Despite having single-handedly won a greater haul of Olympic gold medals than most medium sized countries, Michael Phelps still manages to look more like the helpful lad you might find at the checkout counter of your local supermarket than the swimming legend he undoubtedly is.
Nonetheless, fresh from their efforts in the pool, Olympians and OMEGA brand ambassadors Phelps and Chad le Clos were among the special guests at the “Swimming Legends” event on Monday night at OMEGA House in Rio de Janeiro. Inside a packed House, they were joined by Alexander Popov, another OMEGA brand ambassador, who is regarded as one of the greatest sprint freestylers in history.
Both Phelps and Le Clos have added to their medal tally during Rio 2016. Michael Phelps added 5 more gold medals and one silver – pushing his overall career total to 28 medals including 23 gold. When entering the venue, he spoke with guests and reflected on his time in Rio.
Michael’s wife Nicole and baby son Boomer were with him throughout the competition and were also alongside him at OMEGA House. With a smile on his face, Michael mentioned how being a father has influenced his swimming.
“There’s no better way to finish a career. I think it was finally setting in that this was my last time. These were my last races ever. That was going through my head the whole time and it just made me emotional. Fatherhood is the greatest thing I could ever dream of. I think there were a lot of things that I did in Rio for the team, as a captain, that were very fatherly like.” Michael Phelps
Le Clos also walked away from the pool in Rio with two silver medals to his name. He gave his thoughts on Michael’s retirement as well as his own future aspirations.
Chad le Clos
“Michael has always inspired me every day. To think that he’s retired is difficult. I’ve asked him nicely if he’ll stick around for another year or so. But now that he’s gone I feel like there are a lot of things I need to get closer to, like a world record for example. There’s a lot more of me that the world hasn’t seen.” Chad le Clos
One of the other leading guests of honor was Alexander Popov, an OMEGA Ambassador and former Olympian with 9 medals. He has also been on the Organising Committee for Rio 2016. Speaking to guests at the event, he said,
“The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have had a lot of Brazilian flavour. If you take the organizational part, if you take the Opening Ceremony, if you take the food, culture, colour, traffic, construction, we will remember the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for quite some time.” Alexander Popov
After a grand entrance and stage appearance from Phelps, Le Clos and Popov, the “Swimming Legends” event carried on long into the night. With less than a week of sporting action left, the celebrations at OMEGA House are still on the rise, with several more major events planned this week. OMEGA, the Swatch Group’s biggest brand, hopes that global coverage of the Olympic Games will translate into rising sales and profits for the business.
Omega’s CEO Raynald Aeschlimann says that the decision to remain official Olympics timekeeper for the 27th time beams the watch brand’s association with precision timing into billions of homes around the world.