Who Will Leave The 2012 Olympics With More Gold Medals: Phelps Or Lochte?
Swimming at the 2012 Olympics has had all eyes on two American swimmers: Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. While Phelps is the world record holder for most gold medals in any Olympics and recognized as the best swimmer on Earth, those that pay attention to swimming know that Ryan Lochte has set himself up to take over Phelps’ position by earning World Swimmer of the Year in both 2010 and 2011. And although Phelps is the name most recognize, Lochte appears to be primed to become in 2012 what Phelps was in 2008. But is Phelps ready to relinquish what he has earned?
Ryan Lochte struck first on Saturday when he took home the gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley while Phelps did not medal after placing 4th. It was the first time that Phelps didn’t medal in a swim event that he competed in since 2000. Immediately, questions arose as to whether or not Phelps had lost his mojo and if Lochte’s reign as the world’s best swimmer had begun. Things changed on Sunday, however, when the U.S. fell in the 4×100 freestyle relay to the French. With both Phelps and Lochte on the same squad, many presumed that the U.S. would snare the gold as they did back in 2008. And with Phelps swimming the second leg and Lochte taking the anchor, it appeared that even Team U.S.A. assumed that Lochte’s time had come. But the race turned out to perhaps reveal more than we thought.
When Lochte hit the final leg, he was in the lead and looking to add a second gold medal to his collection. Everything looked great as he hit the water and carried the lead…until he was about 20 seconds from winning. Then, he faded. As French swimmer Yannick Agnel swam furiously, Lochte began to fall apart. He didn’t pace himself and gave everything in the first 50 meters. His energy sapped, all he could do was watch Agnel stride past him and take the gold medal. It was a spirit-crushing defeat. But for Michael Phelps, it was perhaps some form of redemption. Not because Lochte lost, but because Phelps swam a team best time of 47.15 and helped give the Americans the lead to begin with.
Maybe his 400m failure was a blip on the radar and Lochte isn’t quite ready to take over. Maybe not. We still have a whole lot of Olympics left to see, and this should be fun.