U.S. Swimmer Anthony Ervin became the youngest and oldest Olympic champion in the same event after winning the men’s 50 meter freestyle in the year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Ervin joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and talked about the differences in winning the gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games at age 19 compared to winning gold this year at the age of 35.
“Oh boy, that was nearly half my life ago, right?” Ervin said laughing, while talking about Sydney. “I remember being overjoyed at first that this sport, the technicality of it, the passion and the competition was really what I focused on. So there was great joy in being able to see you were amongst the best. Of course I did not take into account whatsoever the responsibility that comes along with that once you do achieve that level of success on an international and national stage, so I wasn’t ready for that.
“So this time around, I was much more prepared. I knew that if you do an Olympic champion or even if you’re just over there at all how you’re representing much more than yourself. So even though the skills and the training and the hard work comes in the form of sport, you have to be able to stand up and be something for more of your people once you get there.”
Having retired three years after the Sydney Games, Ervin talked about his decision to jump back in the pool a year and a half before the 2012 London Games despite the shape he was in.
“I was not even a 150 pounds, so rail thin. I had been smoking near a pack of cigarettes a day for years,” Ervin said. “So where I hadn’t put on all this extra weight, it could be a bit more challenging to get rid of. I had no strength whatsoever. It was difficult, but like, I knew only one way to do it when I’m in the water and that’s to constantly trying to find ways of getting better of feeling more. Swimming is just an act. It’s about body awareness, it’s about recognizing where you are and the forces that are moving with and against you, and that’s always been my gift. That’s always been my talent. So if it required more strength to have better command of that, then the strength started coming bit by bit, and with that, a year and a half later I was on another Olympic team, one where I was in the Olympic final, although I did not medal.”
Although Ervin wasn’t sure which of his Olympic medals mean more to him, 2000 or 2016.
“Hard to say. It’s been so soon, time can only tell these things,” Ervin said. “If anything, I could tell my story from 16 years ago and where it’s lead to, and it really does require the space and the time to consider what has happened to really understand it. Right now, I’m still very much in the moment, and the medals are really, to me, it was really having my brothers and all my friends down in Rio. They came all the way down there to have a good time, to experience that with me, so it was with pleasure I win the gold for them.”