Since Michael Phelps has more gold medals than any other Olympic athlete in history (21 and counting), it’s almost hard to imagine the time when the record-setting swimmer was still dreaming of his first.
CBS Baltimore affiliate WJZ on Wednesday dusted off a 15-year-old video from the archives showing Phelps, a Maryland native, talking about his hopes for gold in the coming years.
Half a lifetime ago, Phelps told the station his other big concerns were adjusting to the new time zones when swimming abroad and getting his learner’s permit to drive.
The interview came a year after Phelps made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney games. At 15, Phelps was youngest American male to make the USA swim team in 68 years.
Phelps went home from Sydney without medaling ― only to roar back at the 2004 Athens games and clean up with six golds and two bronzes.
“I guess I give up a lot of things, but I’m getting a ton of things normal 15-year-olds aren’t getting,” Phelps said at the time regarding his intense training regimen. “I think this is a life anyone can dream of and I’m definitely living it.”
Phelps has continued to live the dream in years since: As of Wednesday evening ― with several more events to go ― Phelps already had more Olympic gold medals than any other athlete in modern history, more individual Olympic gold medals than any other athlete and three individual world records in various swimming events.
Though Phelps’ medal count has changed since that 2001 interview, a goal he stated way back when has not.
As he told his local TV station: “I just want to get faster.”