Anthony Ervin – the half-black, half-Jewish – Olympic swimmer advanced out of the 50m freestyle heat on Thursday morning in London, and will take part in the semifinals of the event later today.
The U.S. Olympian and former world record holder in the 50m freestyle, retired from the sport two years after winning gold in Sydney in 2000.
Now, the Los Angeles born Ervin, who has dealt with Tourette Syndrome his entire life, could be the second American male to win gold in a sprint swimming event in London.
“Hopefully I can make that happen in the next two swims,” he said on Thursday.
Ervin would join his countryman, Nathan Adrian, who won the 100m freestyle on Wednesday night, marking the first U.S. men’s gold in the 100m freestyle in over two decades.
Shortly after winning in Sydney, Ervin auctioned off his gold medal and donated the proceeds to the UNICEF tsunami relief fund. After qualifying for the American squad in London, he told Rolling Stone his outlook had changed since the last time he competed at the Olympics.
“It’s like déjà vu,” Ervin says of qualifying for Team USA in the 50-meter freestyle event. “Except where once I was green, vain and ambitious, now I’m just grateful to be alive and bring joy to those I care about.”