Matt Biondi picks up where he left off nearly 3 decades ago – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-06-08 05:00:08 –

Matt Biondi has resumed from where it left off nearly 30 years ago. The resistance he faced is bitter …

Matt Biondi has resumed from where it left off nearly 30 years ago.

Suffering from the resistance he faced when trying to turn swimming into a true professional activity after winning the Seoul Olympics, he turned his back on swimming, which was a big part of his life. I did.

“Maybe we could have done something really great,” Biondi told The Associated Press, but it still sounded a bit sad. “Instead, it ended up in a kind of train wreck.”

Now he is back in the pool and is leading a new organization that wants to give swimmers a greater role in managing the sport and allowing their efforts to be properly monetized. ..

Biondi officially launched FINA on Tuesday after marketing his ideas at competitions and clubs around the world for nearly two years. In essence, it was abandoned for a long time to modernize the sport. I’m back in the effort.

I’m going to see it this time.

“I used to hurt the sport when I tried to do better,” Biondi, 55, said in a telephone interview. “That’s okay. From now on, I want to do better for someone.”

He has secretly registered more than 100 swimmers from 31 countries, including Olympic champion Ranomi Kromowijojo of the Netherlands, Katinka Hossou of Hungary, Chadru Krom of South Africa and recent competitions. Includes a leadership group that includes Lia Neal of the United States who announced her retirement.

Neil heard some stories about Biondi’s recruitment. She was impressed with his message.

“He makes a lot of sense,” Neil said. “I feel this is the beginning of something pretty big that will have a big impact on the future of swimming.”

Biondi wants to follow the path set by other groups trying to empower Olympic sports players. For example, the Global Athlete and the Athletics Association, which focuses on athletics.

With the US Olympics trial starting on Sunday and the Tokyo Olympics less than two months old, Biondi isn’t going to get a lot of attention right away.

He focuses primarily on getting the organization up and running and is complete with all the conduits of modern communication.

“When it comes to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I’m like a fossil,” Biondi said with a laugh. “I’m a phone and email guy.”

For those who spent their youth trying to run as fast as possible, he is taking a more cautious approach this time. Leading swimmers are completely obsessed with the goals of the Olympics. At this time, we don’t have time to discuss the big picture.

“We don’t expect anything to destroy the planet until next year,” Biondi said. “We have taken great steps to be careful and orderly, and by doing so we can build a solid reputation among the swimming community that we are a useful and useful organization.”

Biondi’s brilliant swimming career hasn’t faded over time, and his legacy has broken the record for Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals in a single game in Seoul in 1988. It became solid.

Biondi was finished with five gold, one silver (in hundredths of a second), and one copper.

At a time when most swimmers had little hope of making ends meet after their college career, Biondi sought to take advantage of his Olympic success with a professional approach that he actually paid for. He won an endorsement contract. He ordered a performance fee. He entered the clinic.

“There was a source of income,” Biondi proudly recalled. “It’s new and we’ve had a lot of resistance from a few coaches, especially USA Swimming.”

He said the governing body threatened to qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He was able to compete, but only won one personal medal (silver in the 50m freestyle) and two late payments. He was very distressed about the whole experience and retired shortly thereafter.

“USA Swimming was aiming to produce the best athletes to win the most medals at the Olympics, and that’s it,” says Biondi. “The Governing Body did not support me. In fact, they actively suppressed my competitiveness. I was very angry with swimming and the fact that they failed to modernize. “

After being 200 seconds behind Jon Olsen in an individual match, he salted his wounds in Barcelona and was demoted to qualifying for a 4×100 free relay. Biondi still won the gold medal, but he was Olsen in the final. I could only see the winning team fixed in.

“At top-level competitions, we kept medley and free relays away from oblivion many times,” Biondi said. “A very sour taste remained in my mouth. It feels familiar. It was unheard of. Our sport was sad.”

He became a high school math teacher and coach, avoiding the highest levels of swimming for 17 years.

Over time, my anger diminished. Biondi slowly returns to the sport where he has taken a gentle step towards the system he once envisioned, Michael Phelps has become a millionaire many times, and many top swimmers have at least a comfortable life. Is done.

However, it still presents major financial challenges for most competitors, lacks transparency about where funding goes, and gives athletes little say in deciding key issues.

These are some of the areas Biondi wants to work on. You might think it’s easy to sell to people at work, but swimmers, especially US athletes, often resist change as well as coaches and bureaucrats who benefit from their efforts. ..

“American swimmers don’t understand the economics of sports. You can’t see anything across the lane,” Biondi said. “For decades they were racehorses. They were told what to do and were obedient. We needed a generation of swimmers who were willing to see the big picture of the sport.”

Surprisingly, Mr. Biondi said that many swimmers are unaware of his myriad achievements, which makes the job of selling even more difficult. You will soon notice that you are a certain person.

“Get your credibility through Wikipedia,” he ironically. “My list of medals and achievements is for 3 screens.”

He wants to add a few more before it’s done.


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963. His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry.


Other coverage of the Associated Press: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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