Michael Phelps is ruthlessly competitive. Poker, spades, swimming -- he wants to win.
Teammate Erik Vendt said, "When it gets to be game time, you can see it in his face: 'I'm Michael Phelps and I'm not going to lose.'
"When push comes to shove, he is going to be there. I have never seen him lose a close race and I don't plan to see him lose a close race."
"When I'm focused," Phelps said, "there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in my way of doing something. There is not. Never has been.
"If I want something bad enough, then I'm gonna get there. That's just how I always have been. If I don't get there, watch out - because it's going to be even worse and I'm going to have my head on even tighter and you will not get in my way."
Phelps is, moreover, possessed of an exquisite sense of awareness and timing about his own body and performance.