Olympics swimming: Rochte claims gold, Phelps off podium
By Indo-Asian News Service
Sun, Jul 29, 2012 02:04:08 GMT
"Whatever happens, we will still be friends," was the promise made by Ryan Lochte following his stunning win in the final of the men's 400 metres individual medley on Saturday night.
Friends they may be, but after Saturday's showing they may not now be rivals.
Lochte powered home to gold, ahead of Brazil's Thiago Pereira and Japanese swimmer, Kosuko Hakino, with Olympic Champion and 14-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps finishing fourth.
Given the shockwaves caused by Phelps' inability to win a medal, Lochte faces as many questions about his friend and rival as he did about his own magnificent win.
"I'm surprised he didn't get a medal, but he gave it everything he has," said Lochte about Phelps, before praising Phelps' sportsmanship.
"After the race he came to me in the massage area and congratulated me on keeping 400 medley for the US," he added.
Phelps' failure will see questions asked as to whether he is not past his best or lacking motivation in what is his last major meeting. Lochte expects Phelps to fight back.
"Losing will serve to be motivation for him," he assured. "He'll light it up in the next races."
"A lot of people say Michael is inhuman, but he's just like all of us, except he trains harder and he knows how to win. You have to find ways to beat him, but there are other athletes out there, so you have to learn how to race, you can't just focus on one person," continued Lochte, who has never lacked self-confidence."
"Going into every race since I was eight years, old I have always felt that I was going to win. There is pride in winning this race though as (Michael) had won the 400 metres medley in the two previous Olympics," he said, confident that the gold medal to open the way for more to follow.
"I am sure it will help me out in the rest of my swims," said Lochte, who admitted he has seen a dream come true.
"When I was about 11 or 12 was when I started to dream of an individual gold medal at the Olympics. I knew the sacrifices I had to make in my training and it is worth it," he assured.
Olympics swimming: Rochte claims gold, Phelps off podium US swimming sensation Ryan Lochte stole the headlines at the London Olympics swimming Saturday with a emphatic win in the men's 400 metres individual medley, while the illustrious Michael Phelps was shut out of a medal.
Lochte, a three-time Olympic champion, led from the very beginning to touch wall first at 4:05.18. Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira finished second at 4:08.86, while Japanese Yuya Horihata settled for a bronze at 4:08.94, Xinhua reported.
Phelps was shut out of medals with a fourth place at 4:09.28.
During the gruelling race, Lochte was already in the lead by the time he surfaced following his initial dive off the starting block. He had an one-second lead after the opening butterfly leg and expanded that to two seconds over the backstroke and three seconds after the breaststroke leg.
Roared on by a capacity crowd, he carried on his streak and powered home in the freestyle leg to win by over three seconds.
Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold winner and long-time master of the 400 metres individual medley event, fell out of the podium in the first of his seven events at which he called his last Olympics.
Lochte, who last year emerged from Phelps's shadow with five titles at the World Championships in Shanghai -- including 200 metres freestyle and 200 metres individual medley victories over Phelps -- lost to Phelps in three out of four events at the US trials last month.
On Saturday, Lochte eclipsed the illustrious Phelps by an undeniable win of over four seconds and rose to a realm of his own.
"I think I am in shock. I knew I was capable of winning," said Lochte. "I heard the fans screaming and was cheered up."
Phelps was disappointed in screwing up his first event, admitting his rivals were better prepared.
"I felt fine for the first 200 meters, but in the last 100 meters they swam better and that's why they got medals. They were more prepared," said Phelps.
"It's frustrating to start on a bad note, its upsetting, but the biggest thing is to get past it and to move forward. I hope I can finish better than I started," he added.
"I was lucky to get up, I had the chance for a good start to the Games and didn't take it," said the 27-year-old.
Phelps' coach Bob Bowman was also surprised with the flop. "I honestly don't think it was a fitness issue. I thought he was in a good place mentally," he said.