Michael Phelps won 22 Olympic medals in his career. (Clive Rose / Getty Images )
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was named the Associated Press male athlete of the year on Thursday.
“It's kind of nuts to think about everything I've gone through,” Phelps said. “I've finally had time to myself, to sit back and say, " … that really happened?' It's kind of shocking at times.”
Phelps, who won four gold medals and two silver at the London Olympics, barely defeated Miami Heat star LeBron James to win the award.
Phelps finished with 40 votes in balloting by U.S. editors and broadcasters, while James was next with 37. Track star Usain Bolt, who won three gold medals in London, was third with 23.
It is the second time Phelps has won the award, the other time coming in 2008. Carl Lewis is the only other Olympic-related star to be named AP male athlete of the year more than once, taking the award for his track and field exploits in 1983 and `84. The only men honored more than twice are Tiger Woods and cyclist Lance Armstrong (four times each), and Michael Jordan (three times).
“Obviously, it's a big accomplishment,” Phelps said. “There's so many amazing male athletes all over the world and all over our country. To be able to win this is something that just sort of tops off my career.”
Phelps, who retired after the Olympics, has won more gold medals (18) and overall medals (22) than any other Olympian.
“That's what I wanted to do,” Phelps said. “Now that it's over, it's something I can look back on and say, 'That was a pretty amazing ride.' "
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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