Rio Olympics 2016: Anthony Ervin wins 50m freestyle gold at 35

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USA's Ervin wins gold in 50m freestyle final

Anthony Ervin has capped a remarkable turnaround to become the oldest ever Olympic swimming champion at the age of 35 with victory in the 50m freestyle.

The American won joint gold in the same event in 2000 when he was 19 years old but quit the sport aged just 23.

He attempted suicide, worked in a tattoo parlour, played in a rock band and sold his gold medal for $17,000 to donate the money to Tsunami victims.

"It's surreal, kind of absurd," said Ervin after his shock win.

Ervin revealed he became a father during the US trials last month but has yet to see his daughter.

He said he wanted to be at the birth but was still competing and then got caught up in Olympic preparations.

"Oh man, it's like a thunderbolt," he said. "I haven't had a chance to meet her yet and I tried to send a message to her after my race."

Multiple gold medallist Katie Ledecky, 19, was in awe of of his team-mate's feat: "Wow, who does that, winning 16 years apart?"

France's Florent Manadou won silver, Ervin's compatriot Nathan Adrian came third and Britain's Ben Proud fourth.

Proud, 21, became the sixth British swimmer to finish fourth in a Rio final.

He said: "As soon as I touched my hand on that wall, it was over. There was nothing I could do about it, so I'm just going to accept the result and enjoy it.

"No one's trying to get fourth, they're doing their best and it's just how it happens. I was absolutely delighted to see Anthony Ervin jump on that lane liner and win his gold after 16 years. It's truly inspiring."

Meanwhile, Britain's Fran Halsall won her 50m freestyle semi-final despite her bus getting lost and taking her to the athletics stadium.

"It hasn't derailed me," said Halsall. "I've done it under the stress, made the final, so less stress tomorrow night, the bus turns up, it will be all good."

The amazing story of the man from Hollywood

Anthony Ervin
Anthony Ervin (left) celebrates winning joint gold with compatriot Gary JR Hall in 2000

Ervin's return to the top of international swimming is one of the stories of the Olympic Games.

Born in Hollywood in 1981 and an Olympic gold medallist before the age of 20, he had given up swimming at the age 23.

He spent time living in New York, teaching and playing in a rock band, and sold his 2000 gold medal on Ebay to raise money for victims of the 2004 tsunami.

Ervin also suffered from depression and at one point tried to kill himself by overdosing on tranquilisers.

After returning to competition in 2011, he qualified for the USA's Olympic team for the 2012 Games and came fifth.

He was part of the team that won gold in Monday's 100m freestyle relay and now is an outright Olympic champion for the first time.

"I kind of laughed," he said. "It's almost absurd I was able to do it again."

He also indicated he would keep this medal "for now", adding: "Who knows what the future holds?"

Ervin suggested in an interview earlier this year that if he was successful in Rio he would consider attempting to qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020.

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