Phelps in twilight (sorta)

LONDON – This time, Michael Phelps means it. He has claimed he would never swim the 400 individual medley again. When he finishes the event Saturday night, in a highly anticipated showdown with fellow American Ryan Lochte, it will definitely be the last time. As Phelps has made very clear, his competitive career ends with these Olympics. “This is the closure,” Phelps said in a jam-packed press conference room. “These are the last competitive moments I’ll have in my career. How many toppings do I want on my sundae?” He built the sundae in Beijing, winning a record eight gold medals. It was one of the most incredible displays of athleticism ever, in or outside the Olympics. This time, Phelps will compete in seven events. Perfection is not the issue. “The goals are different,” he said. “In Beijing, I was trying to conquer the world. This time, I’m more relaxed. I’m enjoying it all more.” Phelps talked about sitting in the common room in the athletes village. While others are training or sleeping or socializing, he’s watching episodes of The Wire. The newly relaxed Phelps leaned forward in his chair and cut off a PR person who was about to move on from a question about recent comments by teammate Tyler Clary. Last month, Clary told a California newspaper that Phelps gets by on talent and doesn’t work as hard as he should. “I think the things he could have done if he worked as hard as I do would be even more incredible than what he has pulled off,” Clary said. He later apologized for the comments in public. Phelps said Clary also came to him and apologized in person. On Thursday, he didn’t sound particularly forgiving. “He talked to me for 10 minutes,” Phelps said. “He said things were taken out of context. I said multiple times, you don’t have to say anything. Whatever you said, you said.”