Rio de Janeiro, Aug 13: American swimmer Anthony Ervin's story is an inspiration. He quit the sport at 22, attempted to commit suicide and now at 35 he has won 2 gold medals at Rio Olympics 2106. A remarkable comeback indeed.
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Ervin won the 4x100 freestyle gold in Brazil and added 50m freestyle gold on Friday (August 12). He took the top spot in 50m race with a time of 21.40 seconds.
It was at 2000 Sydney Olympics that Ervin, 19, won his first Olympic medal, in 50m freestyle. He was joint gold medal winner with compatriot Gary Hall Jr.
However, 2 years later he shocked the swimming world by retiring at 22. According to reports, Ervin is both the youngest (19) and oldest (35) Olympic champion in 50m freestyle.
"He had already tried to commit suicide by swallowing a handful of tranquilisers, and he nearly killed himself more than once riding a motorcycle while high on LSD and cocaine. After his retirement, he disappeared from the swimming community.
"In 2004, he got fired from a tattoo parlor in Berkeley. He played guitar in a band called Weapons of Mass Destruction and briefly sold equipment at a music shop.....Ervin went deeper into the rock-and-roll lifestyle of drugs and late-night music gigs," "People" website said.
In 2005, Ervin auctioned off his Sydney Olympic gold medal to raise funds for Tsunami victims of 2004. His medal fetched $17,000 on eBay and the money was donated to UNICEF Tsunami Relief Fund.
Having battled with drugs, alcohol use, depression, Ervin chose to lose his identity as a swimmer. During school days, he also suffered from Tourette's syndrome.
According to dictionary.com, Tourette's syndrome is "a neurological disorder characterised by recurrent involuntary movements, including multiple neck jerks and sometimes vocal tics, as grunts, barks, or words, especially obscenities."
"The oppression of my former swimming identity loses its hold on me. I am no longer Anthony Ervin the Swimmer, but Tony, just another guy in a band," he wrote in his book "Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian".
According to Yahoo.com, "He (Ervin) once rode his motorcycle 177 mph and was involved in a near-death accident when he collided with a Mustang during a police chase."
After 16 years since his first Olympic gold, Ervin has 2 now. With the earlier medal gone for a good cause, Ervin will hope to keep these 2 with him and his story is definitely an inspiration to budding sportspersons.