Bob Costas spent an hour interviewing Michael Phelps in a London TV studio reviewing the giant swimmer’s splashy achievement, medal by medal. The most decorated of all Olympic champions had just won his 22nd medal and announced his retirement. What will he do next, Costas wanted to know. “I want to go all over the place and visit cool places,” Phelps replied. (He won gold, btw, in Athens, the cradle of western civilization; Beijing, city of 20 million and one of the great venerable capitals of Asia, and London, founded by the ancient Romans and for more than a century the center of the world’s vastest empire.) NBC promoted the interview as Phelps revealing “his innermost thoughts,” which, if he’s like anybody else on the planet, he wasn’t going to mention. Costas ended the interview–which ranged widely in subject from swimming to swimming faster to swimming less and then to swimming really very fast again–by saying, “It’s been just great to chronicle your career.” And truly it seemed that, for Costas, it had been.
An NBC Olympics press release said: “America’s greatest interviewer sitting down with the world’s greatest Olympian makes for an inspiring piece of television.” It’s not clear whether inspired viewers went out afterwards for a brisk swim, or simply started asking people lots of questions.