Shanteau Provides Perspective
Aug 6, 2008
Craig Lord

Eric Shanteau, the American Olympic breaststroke swimmer who last month revealed that he was suffering from testicular cancer, has put the Olympic Games into perspective for the whole USA team, his teammates said at the USA team press conference here in Beijing today.

Shanteau kept Brendan Hansen former world record holder and champion out of the 200m breaststroke in Beijing by finishing second at trials last month. Two days later, he revealed that he had been told in June that he needed treatment for cancer but spoke of the elation he felt at having made the Olympic team. He would set treatment aside until after the Games.

Hansen, in Beijing for the 100m breaststroke, said: &quote;When we heard about Eric it gave us all a sense of the big picture. The Olympics looks alot smaller when you're dealing with cancer.&quote;

Asked how he managed to put such a brave face on his plight, Shanteau said: &quote;What I show to the general public is obviously the positive side but, like you say, I am human and this has been a roller-coaster ride. This isn't flu, this is cancer.' The 24-year-old swimmer from the state of Georgia added: 'How do I keep focused? It's been pretty easy actually. A lot of times you can get to events like this, like the Olympic Games, and you can put maybe too much pressure on yourself - and I've kind of got an out with cancer in that cancer's put things in perspective for me. There's a lot more to life than the Olympic Games and I think having learned that lesson really quickly has kind of helped keep this whole thing in perspective for me.&quote;

Shanteau praised his teammates and coaches for the support they had provided. &quote;They help me through the down days. It (cancer) is on my mind constantly, I can't help that, that's how it's got to be. But with the support I have, the people I have in my corner, they're the ones who help me through it.&quote;

In return, Michael Phelps, who is aiming to win eight gold medals in Beijing, spoke of the support being given to Shanteau as typical of the USA team spirit: &quote;I lost my grandmother to cancer. I know it's not an easy battle. I know his (Shanteau's) goal was to swim in the Olympic Games. He's doing that, he's excited, he's positive. We're all supporting each other in everything we do.&quote;

Aaron Peirsol, who will defend his 100 and 200 metres backstroke titles in Beijing, added: &quote;The way he's handled it has put everything else in perspective for all of us.&quote; Peirsol said.