​Gold medalist Anthony Ervin: "You don't need to resist aging"

Anthony Ervin's victory lap
Anthony Ervin's victory lap 03:53

Of the 69 Olympic medals U.S. athletes have earned so far in Rio, almost half of them -- 33 -- came from swimming. Two of those golds went to Anthony Ervin, an athlete who medaled as a teenager and waited 16 years for his return to glory.

Ervin, at 35, is not only the oldest member of this year's U.S. team; he's also now the oldest male swimmer to win an Olympic individual event medal in more than a century.

But for him, it's not about age; it's all about the long and difficult road that brought him to the podium.

Correspondent Jamie Yuccas reports that Ervin was so determined to finish strong Friday night in the 50-meter freestyle race, when he touched the wall to win the gold, he jammed his finger.

"Turned around, immediately saw the '1' next to my name," he said. "I smiled and laughed. And then I knew that my brother and friends were up in the stands, and so I hopped up on the lane line and let loose a roar that, hopefully, they could hear."

The record-keepers heard it, too.

With this gold and the previous one he shared for last week's 4x100 meter relay, Ervin now ties the record for the male athlete with the longest gap between medals: 16 years.

"It's the culmination of a journey," he said.

That journey started back at the Sydney Games in 2000 when, at 19 years old, he tied for gold in the same event he won on Friday.

"At 19 it was such a flurry of new experiences," he said.

So daunting that, not long after, he walked away from the pool for almost a decade. He battled depression, struggled with his identity, even attempted suicide.

He also sold his gold medal.

But now, he's got two new ones to take its place.

Ervin says he's planning to use his success in Rio to help others, not himself: "It's comforting to know that, in however way, whether it's misguided or not, it can give inspiration to others."

Akashic/Edge of Sports

Inspiring others led him to write his memoir, "Chasing Water" (Akashic/Edge of Sports), but now it looks like he published it a little too soon.

Yuccas asked, "So this is the new chapter that's not in the book. What do you want people to learn from you now?"

"I don't know -- give me a few years to write about it!" he laughed.

While he's writing, he'll also be swimming. Despite all the talk about his age, he's not giving up the pool like he did after his last gold medal.

So he's not going to retire? "No!" Ervin said.

"You're 35!" Yuccas said.

"Yeah, how old are you?" Ervin laughed. "You gonna retire next year?

"Everybody wants to resist aging but, like, you don't need to resist aging; there's dignity in that. It's a good thing, right?"

Ervin isn't ruling out yet another sprint for gold in Tokyo in 2020. But one thing will be new for him if does compete there: fatherhood. Right after his win over the weekend, he revealed that he's now a dad to a newborn baby girl. But he hasn't even met her yet, because she was born during the Olympic trials.