American swimmer Anthony Ervin’s journey from winning a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics to waiting 16 years for his next gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics is anything but typical.
Ervin, who has two gold medals in 50m freestyle, quit the sport in 2004 after his success at the Sydney Olympics.
For years he lived a life about as far removed from that of an Olympic athlete as you can get: he dabbled in drugs, joined a rock band, battled with depression and considered suicide.
He even sold his gold medal from the Sydney Olympics to raise funds for the Indian tsunami in 2004.
Ervin’s love for swimming was rekindled when he started teaching kids how to swim in New York. He returned to the pool in 2011, managing to finish fifth in the 50m freestyle Olympic final in London in 2012.
At the Rio Olympics earlier this year, Ervin became the oldest swimmer to win an individual event at any Olympics when he won gold in the 50m freestyle at the spritely age of 35.
Watch Ervin’s exclusive interview with Gafencu about his Olympic experiences and why he decided to walk away and then return to swimming, in the video above.