2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Swimming: August 6-13
- Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Barra Olympic Park, Rio de Janeiro
- Prelims – 9:00 a.m/12:00 p.m PST/EST (1:00 p.m local), Finals – 6:00 p.m/9:00 p.m PST/EST (10:00 p.m local)
- SwimSwam previews
- Day 7 Schedule & Results
- Live Stream (NBC)
Anthony Ervin became the oldest Olympic swimmer to earn an individual gold medal tonight with his improbable victory in the 50 free. Ervin, 35 years and 78 days old, takes over title from the most decorated Olympian ever, Michael Phelps, who earned that distinction with a victory in the 200 fly Tuesday night. Phelps then extended that record by a few days with his gold in the 200 IM last night, giving him a gold at 31 years and 42 days old.
Tonight’s gold medalist has one of the most intriguing storylines in swimming history. He was only 19 years old when he tied Gary Hall Jr. for gold in the same event in 2000, making Ervin the youngest Olympic champion in the 50 free. After a couple more years of swimming, he dropped out of the sport, and essentially disappeared, only to reappear and renter the world of competitive swimming on the road to the London Olympics. He qualified for the 2012 USA team in the 50 free, beating out, among others, Nathan Adrian, who joined him as a medalist tonight. Ervin then placed 5th in this event London.
The man who won gold in London, Florent Manadou of France, looked likely to repeat heading into tonight. But Ervin nailed his start, something had long been a visible weakness, and churned the water the rest of the length of the pool, touching out Manadou 21.40 to 21.41. After yesterday’s semifinal, Ervin had said that he felt like he could go a little faster, and he surely did, as tonight’s swim represented a personal best for him, showing that even at what’s considered an “old age” in swimming, he is still improving.
Ervin has given no indication that he intends to retire, and he’s only 0.04 seconds off of the American Record, held by teammate Adrian, potentially giving Ervin yet another goal to work towards. In fact, Ervin indicated later on in the evening that he would like to swim at the 2020 Olympics, when he’ll be 39 years old.
Ervin on what the medal means to him 16 years after he won his first gold:
“This medal means to me, the recognition, the immense gratitude for all the people that have supported me through the highs and the lows, always there for me, let me lean on them and I hope they can always lean on me if they need it. Most of them are beyond needing to lean on the likes on me.”
On winning the race:
“There were no guarantees but I was feeling good coming into the meet. I felt really good in the prelims, then I changed things for the semis, felt even better then I had a game plan for finals. If anything, I was a little bit slower than I thought I was going to be. But it’s a tough race, it’s the 50m final in the Olympics.”