Anthony Ervin, who tied for the 50m freestyle gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, stands alone atop the podium in the event 16 years later.
He raced to 21.98 seconds at the 2000 Olympics. In 2016, at the age of 35 and the oldest-ever individual Olympic swimming gold medalist, he clocked 21.40 seconds Friday night.
These are the people that made the course of my life possible and when I touched the wall I saw I won," Ervin said to media following the race. "Just kind of the absurdity the surrealness of it all I smile and laugh because it just seemed so unlikely but then I knew they were up there (in the stands tonight) so I just wanted to show them a little bit of emotion that I was feeling for them because they want to see me succeed. While I don’t think it's about dominating the rest of the field it certainly feels good, but I was just trying to do my own swim. It was a great field, great competitors
Florent Manaudou of France, who won the event in 2012, was 0.01 seconds behind Ervin for the silver.
Nathan Adrian picked up his second individual bronze medal of the Rio Games, racing to 21.49 and joining Ervin on the podium.
"That’s incredible," Adrian told reporters. "I’m so happy for him. It’s a testament to how good he is. He is certainly one of the most talented swimmers out there.”