Medals don't make people, says Larkin
Aussie swimmer says gold is not the only thing that matters
History is written by the victors, so goes the famous quote by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Perhaps the saying is a bit simplistic, but there is no denying gold medallists are almost always celebrated the loudest, while those who win silver and bronze mostly are in the backdrop.
Australian backstroke specialist Mitch Larkin has been on both sides, having entered the Rio Olympics this year as the reigning world champion in the men's 100m and 200m backstroke.
The 23-year-old went on to finish fourth in the 100m backstroke and won a silver in the 200m backstroke, and a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.
While gold is definitely a target for the Queenslander at the next Games in 2020 in Tokyo, Larkin will not sweat it if he does not eventually become an Olympic champion.
"Completing a series of Olympic medals with the gold would be nice, but I've learnt that medals don't make people," he said in a tele-conference yesterday, ahead of Friday's Fina Swimming World Cup leg in Singapore.
"If you are not a complete person without an Olympic gold medal, you won't be one with it.
"Having the respect from your fellow athletes is far more valuable than having a gold medal... and if I don't ever come away with an Olympic title, I would like to be remembered to be fairly well-respected within my team.
"That would be a prouder achievement."
The message was hammered home during the Olympics in August, when his girlfriend and teammate Emily Seebohm returned without an individual medal.
The 24-year-old, who won a silver in the women's 100m backstroke at the 2012 London Games, was world champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke heading into Rio.
Larkin said: "She said to me in Rio that she really appreciated her medal from London, and that I should never be disappointed with silver.
"That really hit home for me, because it is an Olympic silver medal at the end of the day, and it's pretty amazing."
Larkin acknowledged that the pressure of repeating Australia's performance at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia last year - the team won seven titles - might have affected the swimmers at the Olympics.
He pointed out that from the various nationalities among the men, only two swimmers successfully translated their Kazan wins to Olympic gold - Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri (1,500m free) and Briton Adam Peaty (100m breaststroke).
He also pointed to the fact that smaller nations like Singapore, with 100m butterfly champion Joseph Schooling, are beginning to make more and more noise on the biggest stage of all.
"Ten or 20 years ago, maybe five countries were really dominant in swimming. The same five are still strong now, but other countries have lifted their game and are in the mix now," said Larkin, who left long-time coach Michael Bohl in September and is looking for a new mentor.
"I have watched Schooling swim plenty times and watched the Olympic 100m fly final, which was amazing.
"He is a fantastic kid and a great talent."