Shane Gould reflects on being an Olympian, 2008

Transcript of the recording

I think being an Olympian has a little bit extra sort of aroma, you know. It has sort of 'fairy dust' attached to it, being an Olympian. And the 'fairy dust' on being an Olympian, it just makes you a little bit special because of the perceived values and ethic of being an Olympian, because there is a wonderful ethic and value and ideal about the Olympics which makes it a little bit more special.

There are two sorts of Olympians - ones who are medal winners, and ones who are not medal winners, but at least you can still have the title of Olympian, whether you're a medal winner or not. And then in the medal winners, you're either the winner or you're not. You're either the gold medal winner, and that seems to have a lot more importance these days than being a bronze medal winner or a silver medal winner. People are just more interested in the gold medal winner, which is a shame really, but that's the way it is because a lot of it is to do with marketing of the gold medal winner. They just have a little bit extra 'fairy dust' on them, so people know that if they do well at the Olympics, like Stephanie Rice did at Beijing, her value was worth more than perhaps Libby Trickett, who didn't win so many medals.

So that's actually a very big difference, because there was no commercialism when I was swimming, and you couldn't earn any money. You had to be an amateur to swim at the Olympics, and that didn't change till about 1984, when you could actually do your sport and earn money from it as well. So that does put a different focus on the winning and, you know, it was more for the honour of your country and the glory of sport. But now it's got dollars and cents behind the gold as well, as well as the honour and the glory.