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Mark Spitz reflects on 1972 Olympics, Michael Phelps on TODAY (video)

Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz explained why he valued not only his seven 1972 Olympic gold medals, but also another item from the Munich Games in a TODAY interview published Thursday.

“I have a participant’s badge, it’s got the symbol from the Munich Olympics,” Spitz told Natalie Morales. “If that’s all I had, that’s more than most who never got there. ... I’ve always thought of myself as just a regular guy, and I happened to do something extraordinary in the journey of my athletic career.”

Spitz, now 66 and without his famous mustache for 28 years, also reflected on his first Olympic appearance in 1968 (“the world thought that I had failed”), why he won’t wear purple and on Michael Phelps.

“I can never escape that personality of who I was as Mark Spitz,” he said. “Old Olympians just never sort of die, they just sort of fade away. All of a sudden, Michael Phelps showed up, and it sort of rejuvenated who I was.”

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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