Eric Shanteau beats cancer, eyes Olympic gold
Editor’s note: On Thursday, HLN’s Graham Winch spoke with swimmer Eric Shanteau about training for his second trip to the Olympic Games.
Q: Eric, when do you leave for London?
A: “So, we’re at a training camp right now in Knoxville that we’ve been at since last Saturday, and then this Saturday on the 14th, we leave for another training camp for about a week and a half in France. Then we head over to London from there. I don’t know exactly the date when we head over to London, but it’s about four or five days before the opening ceremonies.”
Q: Is training the only thing you have to worry about right now?
A: “Yeah, that’s about it. We pretty much just eat, sleep and swim even more than we normally do, because we’re getting ready to start tapering again and really focusing on that last push towards the Olympic games.”
Q: How excited are you about the Olympics?
A: “I’m very excited. I think I’m able to have a little more fun this time around, not having to deal with the health issuelike I did last time, so it makes it easier to enjoy the whole situation, the whole event that is the Olympics.”
Q: How did your brush with cancer change you or shape you as an athlete, or as a person?
A: “I think it’s given me a whole different perspective on life. It’s given me a different perspective on the sport of swimming as well. I learned to really put swimming in the perspective that it should be. I understand that swimming is just a sport. It’s something that I choose to do. It’s something that I love to do, but there’s also a big world outside of the sport of swimming. So I think having that mentality since going through cancer has really helped me have fun with the sport which has, in turn, helped me improve and swim a lot faster.”
Q: What are you looking forward to the most?
A: I’m looking forward to just competing on the biggest stage in the world, more than anything else I mean as a swimmer, I’ve trained my whole life just to compete at the Olympics. So walking out on that deck on the biggest stage that we have in our sport is a dream come true, and I am fortunate enough to do it for a second time. I’m just going to savor that opportunity.
Q: What are some of your expectations for London? How do you think you’ll place? Are you only thinking about gold?
A: No, I’m definitely not thinking about just gold, but when you make the U.S. Olympic team, you know as a U.S. Olympic swimmer, you are always in contention for medals, and I think that’s the mentality that most of us on this team have. I’m no different. You’re looking to go to the Games and put yourself into a position to win a medal.
Q: What’s your favorite memory from Beijing?
A: My favorite memory from Beijing is definitely being able to walk in the opening ceremonies. That was an incredible show. It was probably one of the biggest opening ceremonies in the history of the Olympics and being involved in that parade of athletes was a very unique experience, more like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Q; After your events are over at the games, are you planning to check out any of the other competitions?
A: The whole games last about two weeks and swimming is done after the first eight days so we’re able to relax and enjoy the other events that are competing during that second week of the Olympics, and that’s always fun to be able to get to do from an athlete’s perspective.
Q: What are you planning to see? Do you have something in mind?
A: No, I haven’t really thought about that at all. That’s something that’s pretty low on my priority list right now. I have to think about and concentrate on competing myself before I can think about anybody else.
Q: Right, so it’s like tunnel vision right now?
A: It is absolutely tunnel vision right now; everything is focused on London.