18. Michael Phelps
14 Gold Medals, 2 bronze Medals
His 2008 performance in Beijing— a record eight gold medals—was, simply stated, the best ever. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history, and it seems as though the only competitor he’s racing at this point is himself. That’s not the way he sees things this time around, though. “Over the past three years,” he says, “my career hasn’t been very good. Honestly, it’s been kind of terrible.” As London approaches, however, Phelps’ fire seems to be rekindling. “[This past year] I was able to rediscover the passion and desire to compete,” he says. “I found that drive to be the best.” His training has evolved, too: At 26, he’s focusing less on the distances he’s logging and more on recovery. “I’ve started sleeping in an altitude chamber,” Phelps says. “I’m like the boy in the bubble.”
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