- (Photo: Reuters/Michael Dalder)
Michael Phelps' father, Fred Phelps, has often been an absent figure in the stands as his son has won medal after medal, but he has no doubt been cheering his son on as he has swept the medals at the Aquatics Center in London. Phelps' mother has been a permanent fixture in the stands in London cheering on her son's every race, and has looked like the proudest mother on Earth as Phelps won each of his Olympic medals.
At the London 2012 Games Phelps has set a new world record for being the most decorated Olympian in history, and he extended his medal count on Saturday to 22 with yet another gold in the 4x100 Meter Medley Relay.
His mother, Debbie Phelps, has been a prominent figure in the stands cheering on her son at every single race. However, Phelps' father has been a much more hidden figure in his career.
Debbie Phelps has been featured prominently across networks cheering her son on in Tuesday's 200 meter butterfly, a race he hadn't lost in a major competition since 2001. He was leading all the way through until the final touch, when he was beaten by 0.01 seconds. NBC coverage showed Debbie celebrating as she thought her son had taken gold yet again, by she was quickly corrected by her daughter who pointed out he had just been beaten to the touch and would "only" be getting silver this time.
Phelps' two older sisters, Whitney and Hilary, have also been prominent supporters of their brother as he earned a record breaking 22nd Olympic medal.
Fred Phelps has worked for the Maryland State Police, and he parted company with Michael's mother in 1993 when Michael was just nine years old. They became distanced, but have since come to a closer relationship, although one would not exactly call them particularly close. Fred has remarried since his split with Michael's mother and now lives in Baltimore.
In 2004 Fred and Michael had a brief reconciliation at the Athens Olympic Games, where Phelps won 6 gold and 2 bronze medals. However, in Beijing in 2008 he didn't travel to China to watch, preferring to catch up on his son's record breaking feats on the television.
Although he did not attend the Beijing Games in 2008, father Fred did state the following in an interview around that time period, according to One India News: "I'm very proud of him and all he's done. This is not about me, it's about him."
Since that time Fred has kept a low profile and prefers not to allow his disjointed relationship with his son distract the world from his son's amazing achievements. But he has no doubt been cheering on his son and is every bit the proud father watching his son claimed his 22 Olympic medals, 18 of which have been gold.
Michael Phelps won again on Saturday - his 22nd Olympic medal overall. The race was his farewell event to the Olympic Games.