PULLMAN, Wash. (KMOX) – Five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist and Collinsville native Tom Jager sees positive change in the Olympic games.
Jager swam professionally in the Olympics and national competitions during the 1980s until he retired in 1996. He is now the head swimming coach at Washington State University.
Watching this year’s games in Rio de Janeiro, Jager reflects on how the Olympics have changed since he was standing on the winner’s podium.
Jager says in the 1980s, the American teams were separated and internally competitive. Now, American athletes are supportive and recognize that the games are not just about winning gold.
“America is finally starting to understand that [winning] a medal is big,” Jager says. “When I went, if you didn’t win there was still this failure ‘Oh a silver medal, a bronze medal, oh my gosh that’s so terrible’ and that has changed over 30 years.”
Even between different sports, Jager sees more comradery and respect among all the athletes.
“The support of all the teams from basketball to swimming, swimming to the other sports is changing and I like that.”
Now, Jager says he is committed to passing along his wisdom and passion for swimming to the swim team at Washington State University. He says “Swimming gave me a lot, now it’s time for me to give back a bit.”
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