Summer Sanders: Let the Summer 2012 Olympics Begin!

Summer Sanders has fire in her eyes, and for good reason. The Olympic gold-medal champion swimmer recently carried the torch to help kick off the Summer 2012 Games in London. Read the edited version of our phone interview with her below about what it was like for her to be chosen for this great honor. Plus, she dishes on how she stays fit now and what it was like to retire at 21 years old.

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
summer sanders image
Photograph: USA Swimming

More: There are some older athletes competing in this season’s games. Can age work to their advantage?
SS: I think it can. I think those athletes appreciate the moment a lot more. The younger kids tend to think, here is what I do next and next and next. While the older athletes like Janet Evans, Dara Torres and Amanda Beard didn’t make the team, they stood up there on those blocks at the Olympic trials and made a huge statement. You could also tell how grateful they were, and enjoying the moment. It was very powerful.

More: Why powerful?
SS: What is more powerful than having your little kid in the stands cheering for you? It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

More: Do you think these women will encourage other older athletes to follow in their footsteps?
SS: I think what it does is it motivates people to start training for something. It is really fun to go out there and do something that scares you a little bit. Look, at this point we are pushing ourselves to the extremes. These people are such great role models, and people should look up to them. I think Dara and Amanda really wanted to make the Olympic team. As for Janet, I think her message was, “I want to go out there and race on that stage again.”

More: Even though they didn’t make the Olympic team, do their performances send a positive message to the public? 
SS: It sends a great message, because it encourages others to sign up for something and coveys the message, “Hey, get your juices flowing again!” There is such a sense of confidence sports gives a person, because it allows you to push yourself and get inspired.

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