— Jewish swimmer Anthony Ervin became the oldest Olympic gold medalist in an individual swimming event, at 35 capping a comeback from burnout and drug use in the aftermath of his gold medal at 19.
Ervin edged France’s Florent Manaudou by one one-hundredth of a second in the men’s 50-meter freestyle race Friday night in Rio.
The son of a Jewish mother and a father with black and Native American roots, Ervin won his first Olympic gold medal in the same event in 2000.
Anthony Ervin Came Back From Drug Abuse to Break Records In Rio
“When I touched the wall, I saw a 1. Kind of the absurdity, the surrealness of it all,” Ervin said, according to USA Today. “I smiled and laughed. It just seems so unlikely.”
Ervin, of suburban Los Angeles, won a second gold medal earlier in the week in the men’s 4×100-meter relay.
He had quit swimming in 2003 and, as he details in a memoir published in April (“Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian”), spent his 20s experimenting with drugs, playing guitar and teaching the sport in Brooklyn, New York.
Anthony Ervin Olympic Medalist Breaks Record For Oldest Gold Medal Performance