Michael Phelps signs off in style with his record-breaking 23rd gold medal
Michael Phelps reflected on a fairytale conclusion to a dream career after claiming his 23rd Olympic gold in Rio in his final race.
The 31-year-old American won the 4x100 metres medley relay with Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller and Nathan Adrian, extending his record as the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals in all.
"This accomplishment, I can't wrap my head around," Phelps said. "It's insane. I honestly don't know when I will. This all started and began with one little dream as a kid to change the sport of swimming and try to do something nobody in the sport has ever done. And it turned out pretty cool.
"I've lived a dream come true, something that I wanted for so long. Being able to cap it off with these Games is just the perfect way to finish."
Phelps, who won five gold medals in Rio, has no regrets over his career and says his emotions this time and contentedness mean he will not be performing a retirement U-turn, like he did after the London 2012 Olympics.
He added: "I wouldn't change anything. This is the best place I've ever been in my life, with an amazing family.
"I'm pretty much happy most of the time. Sometimes I get grouchy if I'm hungry...
"I wouldn't change anything about my past."
The winner of six gold medals at Athens 2004, eight at Beijing 2008 and four at London 2012 was unable to select any particular highlight.
"I honestly don't know," he said. "Every one (Olympics) is special in a way and every medal is special in a way.
"I don't even know if I could pick one, because this is just a part of my whole entire career.
"You could say (Rio) was special, because I'm able to start the next chapter of my life.
"I am retiring, but I'm not done, done with swimming. This is just the start of something new."