“Sorry, Boys, I’m Not Going to”- Michael Phelps Once Refused to Sing National Anthem Despite Winning Medal for Team USA

Published 06/23/2022, 8:15 AM EDT

Oh, the glorious symphony of a nation’s national anthem echoing through the stadium. Perhaps it is one of the most surreal feeling to experience the joy first-hand. What’s even more joyous is to sing along to the anthem with a stadium full of people. While it may just be a pipe dream for most, few people have had the chance to experience it. One name on the exclusive list is Michael Phelps.

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Phelps, walking up to the top of the Olympic podium, became a regular occurrence. While he was often the reason for America’s national anthem being played at the Olympics, Michael once denied singing it.

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When Michael Phelps refused to sing the National anthem

The 2012 London Olympics were a marvelous affair. The games saw records being broken left and right, and at the center of it was the great Michael Phelps. When others were busy breaking Olympic and World records, Phelps set his sights on claiming a record previously held for over 2100 years. And in the crowd was his mother, Debbie Phelps, to witness history being rewritten by her son.

Michael won his first gold of the games with help from his teammates. Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, and Ricky Berens accompanied Phelps in the 4x200m relay, which they comfortably won. The awards ceremony was a special one. It was not just another win for America, it was an emotional win for Phelps. But, during the ceremony, he refused to sing the anthem.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 07: Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay on Day 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 7, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The gold medal is the 19th of Phelps career. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Michael told his teammates he wouldn’t be able to mouth the words to the anthem. “Sorry, boys, I’m not going to be singing it with you tonight,” he told his teammates. “My eyes were getting watery. It was emotional,” admitted Phelps. The win marked Phelps’ 15th gold and 20th overall medal at the Olympics, more than anyone has ever won.

The victory was doubly emotional for Phelps because it came after a surprising silver medal. Phelps lost to South Africa’s Chad le Clos in the 200m Butterfly. Chad’s win marked the end of a decade-long dominance of Phelps in the event.

The Record-Breaking moment

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No one, I repeat, no one would ever even dream of winning over 20 medals at the Olympics. Perhaps the swimming GOAT Michael Phelps didn’t, either. But on his quest to make it a reality, there came a moment after which he competed only with himself.

In the 4x200m freestyle relay event at the London Games, Phelps came home to the gold medal in the final leg of the race. After a grueling 6 minutes and 59.7 seconds, the Americans celebrated a victory worth much more than just gold. Phelps overtook Soviet athlete Larisa Latynina to become the most decorated Olympian of all time. As he came out of the water, Phelps grabbed his teammates and told them, “I want you guys to know, I just became the most decorated athlete ever. I want to thank you, guys.”

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Phelps ended his career with 28 medals, with 23 of them being gold. If this isn’t a testament to his greatness, we don’t know what is.

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Naman Gopal Srivastava

240 articles

Naman Gopal is a US Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. Naman is an Undergraduate in Journalism and Mass Communication, with a minor’s degree in Cinematography from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology. An ardent fan of basketball and soccer, Naman was once a national level soccer player himself.

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