Michael Phelps

30th June 1985,05:55; Baltimore, Maryland

  • Sun: Cancer
  • Moon: Sagittarius
  • Ascendant: Cancer

Michael Phelps is one of America's greatest sportsmen, and the most decorated Olympian of all time.

My intention was to look at Michael's chart for his prospects in the Rio Games but two days into them, he won his first gold in the 4x100 metre relay. As we go to press, the tally of gold medals he has acquired over four Olympics has reached nineteen.

Michael began swimming when he was seven years old, primarily as a means of draining his boundless energy - he had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - but by the age of ten it was clear he had a prodigious talent for the sport. (Aged ten he held the national record for his age group in the 100 metre butterfly.) At fifteen he became the youngest competitor ever to join the US swim team; four years later at the Athens Olympics (2004) he took home six golds and two bronzes. It was just the beginning.

Michael Phelps

Michael is a Sun Cancer with Cancer rising, Pisces on the Mid-heaven and Moon in Sagittarius. His Sun is conjunct Mars in Cancer and opposed to Neptune. I'm sure you'll agree there is quite a fishy theme to his horoscope.

A rising Mars is highly competitive, even fearless, and Michael's Mars has the benefit of being in trine to Saturn, which gives him great staying power - enough to keep him at the top of his game over the course of four Olympics.

At this point in time Saturn is conjunct his natal Moon, which initially gave me pause for thought. I wondered whether he might be feeling his age - a common outcome of a Saturn transit to a personal planet - and his self-confidence and performance might suffer as a result. Clearly this is not the case. However, in my researches I came across a fascinating article by the American sportswriter, Joe Posnanski.

In his article for NBC Posnanski suggested that the Rio Games might not be Phelps's best Olympics but his favourite. Phelps at thirty-one and a new father has found a certain happiness and contentment, which Posnanski suggested would increase his enjoyment of the Games, regardless of how successful they were for him. To Posnanski's mind Phelps having completed stages one and two of an athlete's life - Youth/Jason and Maturity/Achilles - he has arrived at the third and final stage - Age/Nestor. (See John Updike's story of baseball legend, Ted Williams).

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

30th June 1985,05:55
Baltimore, Maryland

I'll let Posnanski explain:

"In Greek mythology, Jason was the driven and ambitious young hero who sets out to regain his father's throne. Achilles was the ... beautiful and almost invincible heir. And Nestor was the aged warrior of the Iliad who bragged a lot and offered advice because he was too old to fight...

[In Youth/Jason] Phelps was a phenomenon, a prodigy... he had a clear and unstoppable mission to become the greatest swimmer ever... [In Maturity/Achilles] in Athens, Phelps won eight medals, six of them gold...In Beijing, at 23, he became the first swimmer ever to win eight gold medals, and he lifted his sport to another place... After Beijing, Phelps had trouble finding the motivation to go on... he trained sporadically and talked openly about how badly he wanted to retire." [He was on the threshold of the third stage - Age/Nestor.]

This idea caught my imagination because I believe there is a fourth stage of a career - Rebirth/Dionysus - which, not every athlete achieves. And it is this stage that Phelps has reached. While he officially retired after the London Olympics, deep in his heart he was far from finished, and in 2014 he came out of retirement. He has trained hard these past two years and consequently arrived in Rio with a profound sense of self-assurance that can only come through experience, skill, hard work and age. And if you think this sounds like Saturn, you'd be right. Saturn is not always a gruelling experience but the bringer of gravitas which is endorsed by this planet's transit to Michael's Moon and trine to the Ascendant.

At the time of writing we are only three days into the Rio Olympics but if Sunday's performance in the 4x100 metre relay is anything to go by we are witnessing the power and glory of Stage four of this athlete's career - Rebirth.

Go for gold, Michael! Again and again and again.

Penny Thornton

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