The Wolfpacker

September 2012

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Former NC State Swimmer Cullen Jones Won Three Medals At This Summer's Olympic Games Coming Home With Hardware the 2008 Beijing Games, Jones was no lon- ger the shy and nervous first-timer who was hardly known to a worldwide audience. This time around, he was outgoing and en- gaging, taking advantage of the celebrity he has acquired as one of the world's first African-American swimmers to own a gold medal and as an international spokesman for the "Make a Splash" initiative that pro- motes water and swimming safety to minor- ity youth. He got to know world-class athletes be- F sides his longtime competition and room- mate, Ryan Lochte, and their longtime trav- eling neighbor, Michael Phelps, who always stays within shampoo-sharing distance. "The thing that I learned in 2008 that I changed this time around was that I wanted to be more social," said Jones, who brought home three medals, including his first in- dividual award. "I was so nervous in 2008 that I didn't really talk to anybody. "Going into this year, I told myself that I was going to go talk to Lolo Jones or to Tyson Gay or whoever," said Jones, back home in Charlotte, N.C., after his three- week stay in London. "I wanted to hang out with all these different people. So I did that, and it helped me keep calm." And this time, swimming in four differ- ent events, Jones was expected to win. It put a youthful spring in the 28-year- old's step, reminding him of all the things he did while at NC State. "I had so many events, I felt like I was swimming in college again," Jones said. "That's what my coach, David Marsh, and I talked about going into the Olympics. Our plan going in was to be in as many events and get as much hardware as possible." Jones won his second career gold medal as a member of the 4x100-meter medley relay team and added a silver in the 4x100- meter freestyle relay, the same event in which he helped set a world record and 62 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER or Cullen Jones, the second time at the Olympics was completely dif- ferent. And exactly the same. It was different because, unlike In London, Jones won his first individual Olympic medal, a silver in the 50-meter freestyle, as well as a gold and a silver in relay events. PHOTO COURTESY USA SWIMMING won his first gold in Beijing. Most importantly, he won that first solo medal, a silver in the 50-meter freestyle. As disappointed as he was that he didn't make the finals of the 100-meter freestyle, he doesn't want to appear greedy. "The 100 free didn't go exactly as I wanted, and that hurt a lot," Jones said. "I know I could swim better and faster. But you can't have the good without the bad. I was just glad that I got over the disappoint- ment of the 100, cleared my head and turned it around for the 50 free." Jones will cherish that individual medal forever, just as he does the NCAA champi- onship he won while at NC State in 2006. Sure, it was a little irksome that Lochte, his roommate at every major international event since the 2006 Pan Pac Champion- ships in Victoria, B.C., collected more hard- ware, and that Phelps was again the biggest superstar of the Olympics. "They kept coming back to the room with all these medals, and I was like 'Come on, guys, give me a break,'" Jones said, laughing.

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