Frances Atkinson June 07, 2012
Race to London is a six-part documentary about six athletes: Libby Trickett, Ahmed Kelly, Drew Ginn, Grace Bowman, Ryley Batt and Michael Klim and their quest to gain a place on the Australian Olympic team.
Michael Klim, can you talk about your decision to make a comeback and train for the London Olympics? Why take part in the documentary?
I've never really had that much media attention and to have a camera crew following you for a year made things a little harder. I did it so that one day I could reflect back on it.
Why stage a comeback at all?
I announced my retirement in 2007, but three years later I was still in good shape - I trained to keep sane, more than anything. Being an athlete was my identity and I just started to wonder if I could get back in there and see what I could do. Then London came around, and my chance to swim in my fourth Olympic Games was a big lure.
You married Lindy Rama (a Balinese princess) in 2006 and now you have three children, including Rocco, who was born during your comeback. Life's changed quite a lot?
It has, but I wanted to show my kids my dedication and they got to see me swim at a higher level, which was great. I put aside 18 months to train and I think when people watch Race to London, they'll see it's a team effort. Lindy made the biggest sacrifice of all. She was basically a single mother for the whole time. It wasn't just a personal decision. There were times I needed to be pulled back into line because I can get very obsessive about my sport.
Could you have staged a comeback without their support?
You need everyone: coaches, physio, but in terms of moral support, you need people who are close to you. I think they'd be very few athletes who could do it alone. For me it was great to come home and share how the day went. Obviously, talking to the camera during the documentary let me express a lot of emotions. That's not something I've ever done before.
You're not going to the London Olympics as an athlete. How did you cope with that?
I'm at peace. When I started training after retirement, there was never any guarantee that I'd get back to where I was. The whole experience has been rewarding. It's strange because when I retired the first time, I had a heavy heart, but this time there's no stone unturned.
Are you going to the London Olympics as a spectator?
I'm on the Sunrise panel for the first week of swimming and, hopefully, I'll get over there for the second week. I love the sport, so it would be great to see the Aussie guys win the 4 x 100 relay like we did 12 years ago. That would be amazing.
Race to London is on ABC1, June 19, at 8pm.