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Olympic Gold Medalist Reveals Success Tips

An Olympic gold medalist offered humorous anecdotes and expressed Christian ideals to a responsive Great Hall crowd Wednesday night.

Olympic swimmer Josh Davis shared his experiences and secrets to success in a presentation sponsored by the Christian organization Athletes In Action, which uses athletics as a springboard to espouse Christian ideals.

Davis stressed his "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Athletes" and emphasized that he is "just a regular guy," despite his three Olympic gold medals and national records in swimming.

He was introduced with a series of video clips of UNC student reactions to the question, "Who is Josh Davis?"

One female confidently asserted that "He's a Backstreet Boy." Another guessed, "Isn't he running for student body president?"

But there was no mistaking the internationally famous swimmer after being shown the TV broadcast of his 1996 Olympic trials performance, in which he broke the American 200-meter freestyle record.

The personable Davis introduced himself to the audience with the story of his first swimming experience. "The coach suggested that I switch sports, because I was never going to make it in swimming," he said.

Four Olympic medals later, Davis jokingly summarized the reasons he's glad he stuck with his career.

"I get free clothes, free food, free travel, all because I can make it from one side of the pool to the other really fast," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Isn't this a great country?"

The audience howled with laughter as Davis described the most embarrassing experience of his life, a clumsy drug test after his 1996 Olympic trials. While introducing himself to a female athlete, Davis dropped the cup holding his urine specimen, spilling it all over his companion's face. "I couldn't understand why she was so upset," he joked.

The talk quickly turned serious when Davis recalled the "bottom of the barrel experience" that turned his life around and gave him the commitment to become an Olympic athlete. He said his grueling college practices left him so physically and mentally drained that his body collapsed, leaving him bedridden for two weeks.

Davis said he picked up his Bible and began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which he said aided his recuperation.

"Nine years ago, I made Jesus Christ my head coach," he said.

He followed with his "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Athletes" -- finesse, fitness, flexibility, fuel, fun, family and friends, and faith -- taken from a book he is currently writing.

Mike Echstenkamper, AIA's local representative, said he brought Davis to UNC because of the ideals he contributes. "(Davis) loves to speak," he said. "(Davis) wants to tell everyone about his faith."

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