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“That Lit a Fire Under My Bu**”: Michael Phelps Took Stern Criticism by His Stride to Prove Doubters Wrong, Revealed in His Autobiography

Published 12/07/2022, 8:00 PM EST

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23-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps is widely considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, if not the very greatest. However, his incredible success entailed its own set of trials and tribulations. Phelps once shared how he took criticism positively and turned it into a challenge! He also revealed how all the criticism lit a fire inside him to prove his detractors wrong. The Olympic shared the experience in his autobiography through a very interesting anecdote.

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Michael Phelps is mostly famous for the unbelievable number of Olympic medals that he has managed to secure till date! Over the years, he has won a staggering 28 Olympic medals, of which 23 are gold! He also has many individual swimming records to his name over the span of his long career and illustrious career.


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Michael Phelps shares an intriguing story in his autobiography

Phelps shared in his autobiography his experience with criticism and how he dealt with it. He revealed how he took all the criticism from the people that doubted him as a challenge and proved them wrong, eventually. Talking about the experience, he wrote, “I had a job to do and I wanted to prove I could do it.”

Incidentally, Phelps read an article which quoted some members of the Australian team discounting Phelps’ chances against Aussie swimmer Ian Thorpe. The then-rising phenom didn’t take the disrespect too well and it put an extra spring in his step to perform better.


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Phelps took all the criticism in his stride and worked on it. As a result, he in turn began working twice as hard and achieved unbelievable results that shut all the mouths criticizing him. Elaborating on this, he said, “That lit a fire under my bu**.”

Michael Phelps’ Wingspan Used to Perfection According to Physician in 2008 Unlike Other Swimmers With Similar Physical Attributes- “But Not as Well as Phelps”

He shared how he was heavily motivated to prove all the people wrong quickly. Phelps especially wanted to prove those people wrong who had been disrespectful to him back during his tough times.


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Phelps is an inspiration outside the pool as well

The swimming legend set up the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2008. He did this by using the $1 million bonus that he got from Speedo. This foundation is focused on growing the sport of swimming as well as promoting healthier lifestyles. It also organizes an annual fundraiser called the Michael Phelps Foundation Golf Classic.


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It was really interesting to see how the swimming legend turned criticism into opportunities. He shut all the mouths that were pulling him down and disrespecting him during his tough times. Going forward, it would be nice to hear more of such experiences from the legend himself.

Watch This Story: Paige Spiranac Hailed Olympic Legend Michael Phelps for His Courageous Act in 2018

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Written by:

Yash Joglekar


One take at a time

Yash Joglekar is a US Sports writer at Essentially Sports. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Pune. Being an avid reader, he has expertise in American English and has been helping US university students with their academic essays for close to 4 years now.
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Edited by:

Satagni Sikder