Throwing Phelps for a loop

Michael Phelps poses for a photo in New York, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2012. (DON EMMERT/AFP)

Michael Phelps poses for a photo in New York, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2012. (DON EMMERT/AFP)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:30 PM ET

TORONTO - I threw Michael Phelps for a bit of a loop on Wednesday during an interview about his newest sponsor, Head & Shoulders.

Basically, the greatest Olympian ever wants people to know that when you look good, you feel confident, and when you have confidence, you can do great things — such as (apparently) win eight gold medals at a single Olympics, hence his “Wash in Confidence” campaign with Head & Shoulders. It’s sort of a take-off on the old Billy Crystal “You look mahvelous” bit on Saturday Night Live.

Anyway, I asked Phelps, who has decided to add to his gold medal collection by competing at the 2012 London Olympics this summer, what a guy with no hair is supposed to do to make himself feel confident, if using the aforementioned product is out of the question.

“Uh, that’s a good question,” said Phelps over the phone from New York City.

“I don’t have the answer to that. I never thought of that.”

Fortunately, the greatest Olympic athlete ever has a sense of humour, though he isn’t joking about kicking ass at the London Olympics.

The man has already won 14 Olympic gold medals and the word is he’s gunning for five or six more in London, perhaps in the 100- and 200-metre butterfly, 200 free- and three-relay events.

The frightening thing, at least for his competition, is that Phelps says he is happier and more content than he’s ever been — and that, he hopes, will aid in his swimming (as if his swimming needs any help).

He said he’s enjoying training more and he and his coach Bob Bowman are more relaxed in their relationship than ever before. Given all that, he’s expecting big things in Blimey.

“I think the greatest are always looking for ways to make themselves better, stronger and faster,” said Phelps, in explaining why he keeps swimming. “And that’s what my attitude is.”

The 26-year-old also revealed he’s been sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber almost every night (which simulates being at altitude) for about a year.

Good hair, hyperbaric chamber. How can he lose?

DE GUZMAN JOINING CANADA?

Two interesting messages from national men’s soccer team head coach Stephen Hart. One, it seems the push to have young star Jonathan de Guzman join the team in time for this summer’s final qualifying drive for the 2014 World Cup is more a matter of legalities than trying to convince de Guzman to switch allegiances from the Netherlands to Canada.

De Guzman’s older brother, Toronto FC midfielder Julian de Guzman, said that his talented bro, who plays for Villarreal CF, has expressed interest in joining him on Canada’s national side. Hart said on Wednesday that they’re “diligently” working at securing Jonathan, who played for the Netherlands U21 team in 2008, and is hopeful it will happen.

The Canadian team is also trying to get Blackburn Rover winger David (Junior) Hoilett to join the team. Hoilett may move to Bayern Munich this summer. The Brampton native is considered one of the best young players in Europe, and is eligible to play for Canada, or his father’s native Jamaica.

The other point Hart made — and I’ve harped on this before, and will continue to do so — is that it’s unfair to compare the women’s team to the men’s, especially in terms of qualifying for major international events, like the World Cup.

“It’s two completely different levels of competition,” said Hart.

“I mean really and truly, if you look at the (women’s) Olympic qualifiers, you have to play two games to qualify, and it’s very much the same with World Cup. On the men’s side there are a lot more competitive teams fighting for those spots. You can’t compare them.”

You can’t, and people should stop doing it.

WEENIE OF THE WEEK

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen for throwing her hubby, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady under the bus, when she lashed out at his receiving corps following Sunday’s Super Bowl loss.

WHILE I’M AT IT

One of the great aspects of dealing with boxers is that they’ll say what’s on their mind, and not dish out a load of cliches. Welterweight fighter Sam Vargas, who fights for the Canadian title at the Hershey Centre Saturday, was asked if he considered going into mixed martial arts instead of boxing.

“I wasn’t into kicking and hugging and touching men, with their balls in my face,” said Vargas. “If it was a sport with girls, I’d probably be there.”

JEREMY LIN SLEEPS ON THE COUCH

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who has taken the Big Apple by storm, told the New York Times that he’s been sleeping on a couch in his brother’s one-bedroom Lower East Side apartment. Most pro basketball players don’t sleep on a couch. Other than, say, the married ones.


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