Laureus Ambassador Felix Sanchez will go for a third Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and says he will not retire until after the 2017 World Championships in London, when he will be nearly 40.
Sanchez, now 37, reveals that he had originally planned to retire after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, but will now continue to London, where he won his second Olympic gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles in 2012, which led to him receiving the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award.
“Rio will be my fifth Olympics. I would have called it quits there, but I got wind that the next World Championships is in London and I just felt like that would be the perfect way to end my career, where I had so much success and such great memories in 2012. Just to finish in 2017 in London would mean ten World Championships and five Olympics and I think that would be an excellent career.”
Sanchez says he has unfinished business in Rio.
“The first time I was in Rio was for the 2007 Pan American Games and I was in first place and I smashed into the last hurdle and ended up coming in fourth. So it's a chance for me to redeem myself.
“It’s going to be exciting. I think I'm five or six years older than the next?oldest guy in my event, at least top ten in the world, so I know they are hungry, but there's no real favourite. So that's also got me motivated and excited. I know I can deal with the pressure, and if I'm in shape, I'm dangerous. So it's going to be exciting.”
He is also looking forward to competing in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, where he ran what he describes as ‘”the worst race ever” in the 2008 Olympic Games, after the death of his grandmother. When he won in London four years later, he dedicated the win to her. Now he says: “I get to go back to Beijing and make things right as far as I’m concerned.”
Sanchez, who was named a Laureus Ambassador last week, was speaking to Laureus.com in New Orleans, where he has been supporting a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation visit. He said:
“We had a panel discussion on how sport and coaching can influence youth in a positive way. For me being a coach for 14 years alongside my competitive career, I've seen this at first hand.
“You don’t realise until you're in it all the tools sport gives you for life in general. Just learning to deal with victory and defeat and learning to set goals and achieve minor improvements daily, always striving to become better. Those are the things that at a young age, they can learn and obviously in the future, whether they become sports figures or go into the working world, those are fundamental.”