Ryan Lochte stands between Michael Phelps and the tag of being the ultimate “Champion Olympian”. The two American swimmers, extremely friendly but fiercely competitive, are set to hold the world attention for more reasons than one in the London Olympics.
The two medleys — over 200 and 400 metres — will bring them face to face before a global audience. If Lochte is the current world champion in these events, Phelps holds the Olympic gold in both from the last two Games.
Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold winner, will be taking part in seven events but faces Lochte only twice. In the 2011 world championship in Shanghai, Lochte beat Phelps in the 200 IM with a world record and easily won the 400 IM in the absence of his main rival.
However, in the U.S. Olympic trials last month, Phelps beat Lochte in three out of four events. Lochte won the 400 IM but Phelps returned to take the 200 IM title.
In Shanghai, Lochte won five gold medals including one in 4x200m freestyle relay apart from a bronze in the 4x100 freestyle relay.
This haul made Lochte a serious threat in the Olympics to Phelps, who confessed not being in the best shape in the world championship.
Winner of the 200m backstroke gold in the last Games in Beijing, Lochte is not only looking to add the two IM titles but also the gold in the 200m freestyle, an event which Phelps has chosen to skip in London.
Lochte, who “was tired of losing to Phelps” appears far more determined ahead of the London Games. He is eager to step out of the shadows of Phelps and get his due on the world’s biggest sporting stage.
Swimming up to four hours a day and covering 110,000 metres in lengths every week, Lochte has been training a bit longer and harder than his other teammates, who take a Sunday off.
Unusual as it may sound, Lochte’s strength building session on Sunday includes flipping a 650-pound tyre to help his movements in his backstroke start, dragging a 580-pound shipyard chain up and down the road and signing off by lifting 130 pounds and clean-and-pressing a 87-pound metal ‘log’.
All this without sacrificing his once-a-week alcoholic drink! “I am still the same. I am not going to change,” maintains the fun-loving Lochte.
In London, should Lochte claim the medley ‘double’ by denying Phelps, his life may never be the same.