Under Armor released a new ad Tuesday, the latest in its “Rule Yourself” series, this one featuring Michael Phelps. The artful spot makes the point that the 30-year-old swimmer is sparing no element of training as he prepares for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro coming this summer.
On Monday, Under Armour released a video that showed the reactions of Phelps and his fiancee, Nicole Johnson, as they were shown the new ad. First, Johnson grew teary-eyed at “knowing what he sacrificed” and seeing it portrayed on the screen, and then Phelps did the same.
Phelps has reason to be emotional. Not only is the most decorated athlete in the history of the Olympics gearing up for what will likely be his final Games, but he will be competing shortly after Johnson is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child. (For what it’s worth, Phelps plans to bring Johnson and the newborn with him to Brazil, despite widespread concerns about the Zika virus.)
The push for the Olympics comes after an arrest for DUI in 2014, Phelps’s second and one that had him stepping away from swimming in order to attend a rehab program. On Tuesday, the 18-time gold medalist said that, having sworn off alcohol until at least after the Games in August, he was training with unprecedented intensity.
“I’m on top of this more than I ever have before because I’m 30 now,” Phelps told the Associated Press. “My body’s not the same it was five years ago, 10 years ago. When I decided to come back, I knew I was going to do it the right way and be able to retire the way I want to retire.”
“What he’s done this past year and a half is remarkable,” Phelps’s trainer, Keenan Robinson said (via the AP). “It’s not like he just shows up, falls in the water and medals fall out of the sky. From my standpoint, he’s on track, he’s on pace. Our focus going in was to make sure no stone was unturned.”
Phelps and Johnson live in Tempe, Ariz., where his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, heads the swimming team at Arizona State. Phelps returned to his hometown of Baltimore to visit Under Armour’s headquarters and view the new ad, which he said in a statement shows “the love for my sport that makes the sacrifices and challenges everyday worth it.”
Phelps is allowing himself to have some fun — for instance, he went full Speedo while participating in Sun Devils fans’ infamous “curtain of distraction.” But he made it clear that he’s going all-out for another shot at glory, a quest that is affecting him not just physically, but emotionally, as well.