New York, August 20 : Golden boy Michael Phelps' record for winning the most gold medals at a single Olympics might have won him accolades from all corners of the globe, but he has yet to be congratulated by his own father, believably due to their strained relationship.
The swimming ace's dad Fred has not had a single conversation with him ever since the former left for Beijing.
However, Fred insists that his son has such a busy schedule that it is very difficult to contact him.
"He's so busy, I'm sure not even his agent can get a hold of him," the New York Post quoted Fred as saying outside his home in the Baltimore suburb of Linthicum Heights, upon being asked why he had not yet made any attempt to congratulate his record-setting son.
The retired Maryland state trooper divorced Phelps' mother Debbie in 1992, when the Olympian was just 9.
The swimmer was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder the same year.
Fred, who remarried eight years ago, has since been in and out of Phelps' life, say relatives.
Endeavouring to deflect attention way from his severed relationship, Fred said: "I'm very proud of him and all he's done. This is not about me, it's about him."
He even insisted that he "watched (Michael) every night on TV" last week.
Phelps' older sisters, Hilary and Whitney, were instrumental in raising him when their dad was not there every day.
Even the swimmer has never publicly acknowledged his father as having any role in his success.
"The person I love the most is sitting in the front row - my mom - for everything she's done," he told reporters Monday in Beijing.
Prior to the start of the 2004 Athens Games, Michael said he hadn't been in touch with his father since graduating from high school.
He reconciled with Fred right before the 2004 Games, and Fred even flew to Athens, where Michael won six gold medals.
However, their relationship quickly soured, say reports.
Story first published: Wednesday, August 20, 2008, 17:34 [IST]
Other articles published on Aug 20, 2008