Lochte’s Olympic run is over
London - It was going to be his Games.
Ryan Lochte's mantra all year has been that 2012 would be his time, his turn to come out of the giant shadow cast by compatriot Michael Phelps and shine himself.
“I trained my butt off for four years, I just feel it inside my gut that this is my year,” he said, brimming with confidence and chutzpah on Saturday. “Go big or go home”, his website proclaims.
Just five days later, the lustre has tarnished.
Lochte's Games are over and he will celebrate his 28th birthday on Friday with two golds, two silvers and a bronze.
Many athletes would be delighted by that, but not the 2011 world swimmer of the year and quintuple gold medallist at last year's world championships. Lochte was hoping for six golds from six events in London.
“I wanted to get all golds in my events, but, you know what, it didn't happen,” a tired-looking Lochte said on Thursday, his bubble burst. “I'm going to have to live with that and move on and learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes in the next four years.”
Those mistakes, he said, were over-enthusiasm, not over-stretching himself.
“It wasn't fatigue and I don't ever get pressured, I think it was just the excitement of being in the Olympics, being a lot faster than I was in 2008.
“That had a lot to do with going up there and going off a lot faster than I usually do.”
Lochte doubled up on Thursday, beginning with the 200m backstroke, an event for which he was the Olympic champion.
Ahead after each of the first three laps, he lost steam in the final lap and was overtaken by countryman Tyler Clary and Japan's Ryosuke Irie.
Less than half an hour later and hardly dry from the first race, a gruelling event that drains energy from swimmers' legs, Lochte was back in the pool in the 200m individual medley, and up against his long-time rival and team mate Michael Phelps.
Leading all the way, Phelps, already crowned in London as the most successful ever Olympian, took gold in this, their last competitive clash. Lochte was relegated to silver.
While Phelps is retiring, Lochte made clear he was already aiming for Rio 2016, albeit at a more modest pace.
“I can tell you this, I'm definitely going to be training differently, all those brutal workouts that I put my body through, you know what, I'm getting older,” said Lochte, who seemed older and wiser than the cocky young man of five days ago.
“I think it's time to take it down a notch.” - Reuters