RIO DE JANEIRO — Sixteen years after winning his first individual gold medal at the Olympics, Anthony Ervin picked up his second with a furious dash from one end of the pool to the other.
Completing a remarkable journey in the blink of an eye, the oldest member of the U.S. swimming team touched first in the 50-meter freestyle, edging the defending Olympic champion, Florent Manaudou of France, by a mere hundredth of a second.
Another American, Nathan Adrian, took the bronze.
The 35-year-old Ervin won his first gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, tying teammate Gary Hall Jr. for the top spot. Then, Ervin walked away from swimming, skipping the next two Olympics while he embarked on a journey to find his purpose in life.
Turns out, it was swimming all along. He returned to make the American team in 2012, but failed to win a medal in London. Now, improbably, he’s back on the top of the podium again.