A Toronto tattoo artist who had U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ face inked on his leg says he got the tattoo for himself, but the viral response online has been “kind of cool.”

“I was always a Phelps fan, but I guess watching him this Olympics kind of made me realize how great of a champion he really is,” Ricky Fung, owner of Chronic Ink on Eglinton Avenue, told CP24. “I started reading up on him and somehow that image popped up on my Internet. I was looking at it and I just saw a man who was really, really focused.”

The image he’s referring to – the one that now graces his calf – is a picture of Phelps with his game face on underneath a hoodie as he watches South African rival Chad le Clos moving around to prep for the 200-metre butterfly semifinal.

The image of Phelps’ furiously staring at his opponent quickly spread on social media, with a crop of Internet memes popping up overnight.

Fung, who saw the image and felt inspired, had artist Livia Tsang tattoo it on his leg. She posted a picture of her handiwork on Instagram and the image quickly went viral as well, with media outlets around the world picking up the story.

While Fung said the reaction was cool, he said the tattoo was meant to be personal.

“It was just for me,” he said. “We didn’t even post it on our Instagram until it became viral.”

So what was it about Phelps’ game face that made Fung want to keep it close?

“It was obviously in the waiting room preparing for his meet and there was this guy shadow-boxing and doing all kinds of antics. You could just see it kind of bubbling inside of him, channeling. And I guess that kind of emotion, that kind of process really got to me and kind of inspired me,” Fung said. “I still don’t see what everyone else sees, which is kind of the meme and the hilarity of it. For me it was just a man who was focused to do one thing, which is what he’s done all his life.”

While the reaction to the tattoo has been mixed, Fung said the way it makes him feel is all that counts.

“Half the world thinks it’s amazing and half the world thinks ‘why would you do such a thing,’” he said. “If you’re going to get a tattoo or do anything in life, just do it for you. Just have fun with it and don’t worry what people say. As long as you’re good with it, you’re cool. That’s how you should live.”