Lochte wins gold in 400 IM; Phelps fourth
Ryan Lochte has won the 400 IM gold medal with an utterly dominant performance of 4:05.18, while Michael Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, failed to medal after barely qualifying for the final. Lochte pulled ahead on the backstroke leg and gained two body lengths on the breaststroke lap, and was never threatened.
A crestfallen Phelps walked briefly through the international mixed zone after the race and described his fourth place finish — his first non-medal performance in an Olympic event since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney — as “pretty upsetting.”
Phelps was relegated to lane No.8 after a mystifyingly slow performance in his morning preliminary, when he out-touched Lazlo Cseh to claim the last spot in the final by just seven hundredths of a second. He admitted afterwards, “That didn’t feel good.”
Although Phelps has six events remaining in London, it was a shockingly poor beginning for the man who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing four years ago. Asked earlier this week which title he most wanted to defend, Phelps had replied, “All of them.”
As the long shadow of Phelps faded in the Olympic pool, the perfect form of Lochte emerged. Lochte has been the more confident and dominant American swimmer since Beijing, and he fully ratified his status with a performance that looked deceptively easy in the water. In fact Lochte has worked relentlessly to surpass Phelps, even undertaking a strength program that includes flipping an 850-pound tire. “I know no other swimmer in the world is doing the stuff I’m doing,” he has said.
by Sally Jenkins
Phelps somber after fourth; Lochte celebrates 400 IM gold
Michael Phelps described his fourth-place finish in the 400 meter individual medley as “pretty upsetting.”
Phelps, who was in a tight race only for third place, got fourth in 4 minutes, 09.28 seconds as Ryan Lochte claimed the gold medal in the event. Lochte finished in 4:05.18, followed by Brazil’s Thiago Pereira in 4:08.86. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino got the bronze in 4:08.94.
“It’s just really frustrating to start off on a bad note like this,” said Phelps, who failed to medal in an Olympic event for the first time since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. “It’s pretty upsetting. I think the biggest thing now is just to get past this and move forward.”
- – - -
Ryan Lochte raised his arms to the crowd, then grinned widely as he accepted his gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday night. “USA!” chants briefly filled the swim arena before the national anthem played.
“I’m in kind of a shock,” Lochte had said moments after winning in 4:05.18 as defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps got fourth place. “Going into the race, I knew I was capable of getting the win. I’m happy I was able to do that.”
- – - -
Ryan Lochte seemed as surprised as Michael Phelps that the two-time Olympic champion finished fourth in the 400-meter individual medley final Saturday night. Lochte greeted reporters wearing his signature “Jeah” baseball cap, turned slightly sideways.
“I know he gave it everything he had,” Lochte said about Phelps. “That’s all you can really ask. I’m going to talk to him and see how he feels about that.”
- – - -
Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of Michael Phelps, said the poor lane assignment — lane eight — had nothing to do with Phelps’s stunning fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley at the Olympic Games. Bowman said he didn’t think Phelps’s fitness was an issue, either.
He said he simply had no explanation for Phelps’s mystifying slow time time of 4:09.28 — about two seconds slower than he swam at the U.S. Olympic trials.
“We just have to put it behind us and move on,” Bowman said. “I expected he would be in the four-oh-six, oh-seven range. He said it was horrible and it was. That was an accurate assessment.”
by Amy Shipley
Beisel, Vanderkaay claim medals
American swimmers picked up two more medals in the moments after Ryan Lochte’s 400 IM win. Peter Vanderkaay won bronze in the 400 freestyle in a time of 3:44.69; he finished behind China’s Sun Yang (3:40.14, an Olympic record) and Park Tae-Hwan (3:42.06).
Elizabeth Beisel picked up a silver medal in the women’s 400 IM in 4:31.27. China’s Ye Shiwen won in world record time, 4:28.43.
Franklin wins first medal
Missy Franklin, a 17-year old rising senior who is aiming for seven medals in London, claimed her first as the U.S. women took bronze in the 4×100 meter relay. Australia won in Olympic-record time, 3:33.15, followed by the Netherlands (3:33.79). The American team of Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt finished in 3:34.24.
by Camille Powell