More: You were tapped for a very important job.
Summer Sanders: Yes. I carried the torch on July 10 in Windsor. Now I will stay on to cover the games for Yahoo beginning July 22.
More: How were you chosen?
SS: I have had a long-standing relationship with Coca Cola, which has been an Olympic sponsor since the beginning. About a year and a half ago they asked me if I wanted to run the torch.
More: How big a deal is that?
SS: I had tears in my eyes as they asked me . . . You can’t ask for this opportunity, you have to be sought out. This was so awesome, you have no idea. I mean, I was jumping up and down like a kid going to Disneyland when I got the call.
More: How far did you carry the torch?
SS: I think it was 340 meters. Let me say, I was soaking up and milking every minute of it.
More: This must take you back to when you were a competitor?
SS: I get so emotional about the games. Now I am holding the Olympic spirit right in my hands. I love everything Olympics and I tend to dive into the emotion of it all.
More: What does going back to the Olympics as a commentator mean to you?
SS: It brings back old memories, ignites the dreams I had when I was a child and be the Olympian I always wanted to be.
More: Because of this huge honor, do you feel like you have come full circle?
SS: I do. This summer has been quite extraordinary for me. It is the 20th anniversary of my Olympics in Barcelona. Would you believe it took me 20 years to get on a cereal box? I finally ran the torch. Now that I am where I am, I really appreciate what my parents did to help get me there.
More: Running the distance should not be a problem for you--you took up the sport of running after you retired.
SS: Yes I did. The moment I hung up my Speedo I put on my running shoes and did the campus loop at Stanford University, which is a little over four miles. Slowly I began to build up my stamina by running in different places all over the country. Eventually I did two New York City Marathons and the Chicago Marathon.
More: And you're finally running pain free, right?
SS: Yes. I used to suffer from varicose veins. Walking around and being on my feet, especially covering the games, used to be so painful. I finally decided to have a 45-minute procedure done to eradicate the problem, and I feel like a whole new person. I am telling everyone to log onto rethinkvaricoseveins.com to learn why this is not a sign of aging but something that is common and that you can easily get rid of.
More: Was it hard to retire from the sport that made you a household name?
SS: Not when I did it. I was 21 years old and I just felt it. I even remember the day I made my decision. I was in the middle of the 50-meter pool doing a set for my coach. It was the first time in 17 years I questioned why I was doing this. It was then I knew. I opened up the book and began to write down my pros and cons about going further.
More: Were you scared as to what the future held?
SS: No, I wasn’t scared. If anything, I thought: Life is going to be amazing. I am about to open up this whole new world of opportunity, including finally being able to see friends and take classes I was always interested in.
More: I never thought I would hear the words “retire at 21” in the same sentence.
SS: (laughs) I know, but what else do you call it?
More: Did you have a game plan before you pulled the plug?
SS: I always loved television and I knew that was an area I always wanted to pursue. To make a career out of two things I love makes me feel so grateful.
More: So you plotted out your agenda ahead of time?
SS: . . . You need a direction, otherwise you will feel lost, and that can be scary coming from a world of so much structure.