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Shanteau could get first Olympic medal Saturday

LOCALS IN LONDON

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LONDON — Eric Shanteau finished off his Olympics still hoping for a gold medal. No matter what, he's much happier than he was four years ago about what awaits him when he gets back to the United States.

Before the Beijing Games, the American swimmer was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery less than a week after he got home. He's been cancer-free ever since.

"I'm just enjoying myself so much more," Shanteau said. "It's just so much easier to walk around with a smile on my face at this meet than it was four years ago."

While Shanteau failed to make the final of his only individual event, the 100-meter breaststroke, he has a chance to pick up his first Olympic medal after swimming the preliminaries of the 400 medley relay Friday. The Americans are a heavy favorite to win that event Saturday and everyone who competes on the relay - either in the morning prelims or the evening final - would get a gold if they win.

Shanteau plans to take at least two months off after the games. Then, he'll decide whether to continue his swimming career.

But at least he doesn't have cancer hanging over him.

"Wow, I can go home and relax and celebrate and do whatever I want to now," Shanteau said, breaking into a big smile, "and not have to worry about living."