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Latest: Saturday September 23, 2000 06:03 AM

U.S. swimmer Tom Malchow

Tom Malchow, U.S. swimmer, gold medalist in the 200-meter butterfly, spoke to about the motivation and strategy that drove him to Sydney.

The competition started for me four years ago, when I won a silver medal in the Atlanta Olympics in the 200-meter butterfly. Being so close to the number one block was enough to motivate me to try again.

To be so close, yet to be denied was difficult. Silver is great, but people always ask how close did you come and want to know what was your time. In America, I guess, they expect you to win.

I didn't want to walk away with just a silver. I wanted the gold.

I asked myself what I could have done differently, what I'd done wrong and how I could adjust to win in 2000. I was the baby on the U.S. team in 1996, just 18 years old and between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Michigan. Since then, there has been college and family, but the Olympics have been a primary focus for me. I've been dedicated to long course swimming, to mastering the 200-meter fly in international competitions. Swimming has been my goal and it is something that I've dedicated a lot of time to.

  Tom Malchow Tom Malchow carries a drive to be number one because he was once number two. AP

In 1996, I got caught up in the moment. I was young and did not know what I had to do to beat the meet.

The Olympics is a unique, unpredictable meet. It's awesome. The things that are supposed to happen, don't. You have to be ready for anything.

It is like a boxing match, and being from the U.S., everyone wants to beat you. The Olympic swimming covers eight days and 15 sessions. We looked at it like a championship fight. Each session was a round, and we did not want to get knocked down or suffer a TKO. We wanted to beat the Australians, Russians and the Chinese. And we had a good run.

In the first few days, the Australians won a few medals. But we didn't think of it as a knock down. It was a little bruise, a wound, maybe. But we came back with a flurry.

Getting beaten in a couple of races early was probably good for us. It was a reality check. We showed that we were ready for a fight. We pulled together and showed some strength in the face of adversity.

My race went according to form. It was difficult to not go out too fast. I'm such a competitor, that I wanted to swim faster, earlier, but I knew winning would take patience and a little courage. I was fifth at the first wall, third at the second wall and second at the last wall, and then got it going in the final 50-meters to win.

I swam my race, and the outcome was just what I'd wanted.

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