"One quote that for as long as I live Iíll never forget, came from Stephen Holland who said that before the Olympic Games...He said that he didnít want to be there. He wanted to find a corner where he could just curl up and hide and make it all go away. Now as a young athlete I heard this (I hadnít competed in an Olympic Games) and I was stunned, I was shocked. I could not believe that a swimmer who had the opportunity to be involved in the ultimate event - the one thing that every swimmer in the world that competes at an international level, the only thing they want to achieve is an Olympic Gold Medal. World records are wonderful; world championships are fine, but itís the Olympics that you want - and to be in a position where you could do that and not want to be there was just foreign, it was something that I couldnít understand.

Until I was there. [Barcelona '92] And I stood behind the blocks and I thought to myself, ĎMy God, what am I doing here? This is just frighteningí. And that was the demon that I had to deal with, going into Atlanta, the demon of getting up on the blocks and knowing that when the time came, would I freak out and not be able to handle the situation, or would I be able to pull it together and do the job? And to be honest, I think that at an Olympic Games the person who wins the event is the person who mentally handles it the best. And about an hour before the race, I remember laying there, getting a massage, and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest, it was just racing at a million miles an hour, and my palms were sweaty and I was frightened about what it was that I was about to embark on. And I got angry with myself, because I thought, 'This is ridiculous; what are the consequences of failure? What is going to happen to me?'"

Interviewer: Only the entire nationís disappointment.

Lane 8 in Atlanta
Kieren Perkins: " I tried to block that out, I was being positive at the time. You can convince yourself of many things when you need to. But I just came to the realisation that this is sport, this is not life and death, Iím not going to come away from this without a family or without a future; it was a situation that I was in. I had the opportunity to shine, to get the best out of myself, and if not, life goes on. And it was at that moment really that I believe I won the gold medal. Because I came away from that relaxed, calm, happy with the position that I was in, knowing that I couldnít do anything to make myself perform better, I could only perform worse, than what I had within myself. And I got up there and I pulled it out. And certainly your comment about recognising that it made the nation feel good, or how that affected me: to be honest at the time I didnít understand that, and even today, I still have difficulty associating myself with that kind of feeling of euphoria.

As I mentioned, like every other Australian, I remember winning the America's Cup, and I remember these great sporting moments that we as a nation stop for, but putting myself in that same category is not something that I can reconcile. Itís not something that really I can come to terms with, because I was there doing it, I wasnít viewing it, I was in the middle of it."

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