Jun 14, 2020
Many remember Gary Hall, Jr as the 10-time Olympic medalist (five gold, three silver, two bronze) who dominated in the 50 and 100m freestyle for 3 Olympics. Or, they remember his bold antics on the pool deck from wearing a boxing robe and shorts to line up behind the blocks to talking trash with the Australians in advance of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay in Sydney in 2000.
But, do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who twice left renowned swim coaches to take a different path because he knew his body needed something different than the traditional approach at the time? Do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who is the Type 1 diabetic who learned to compete at the highest level with the disease even though doctors initially told him it would end his career? Or, do you know the Gary Hall, Jr who was so outspoken about doping during his career that he was sued by a fellow swimmer after speaking out about her association with the BALCO scandal?
In this episode, Kara and Chris interview Gary and get to it all. We discuss his early years in sport, where in spite of having an Olympic swimmer as a father and uncle (and grandfather who was a collegiate champion), he stayed away from the sport initially opting to play baseball, soccer, and basketball instead.
Once he became a swimmer, he began training heavily pretty quickly but struggled early on until he found his home in the sprint events. He talks about his meteoric rise in the sport to make an Olympic team in 1996 in Atlanta at 21 where he finished second in the 50 and 100m freestyle to Russian Alexander Popov. We ask him if the recent Russian doping scandals make him rethink his experience in those Olympics. From there, we shift to discuss his longevity in the sport as a clean athlete who excelled in 3 Olympics and what made him so outspoken on the topic of clean sport when no one else was talking about it in the early to mid 2000s.
As we conclude, Gary provides some really interesting insight on the regulation of speed suits in swimming, the indirect complicity of drug companies in doping scandals, and why private investigators need to be a more pervasive tool in the fight for clean sport. With Gary, it is clear that what you see and hear is what you get. He gave us his unvarnished perspective on every single question, and it's an honor for us to elevate his voice.