LONDON — In three events, Ryan Lochte has won one gold medal and one silver medal. Is that good?
Not in the eyes of the casual American sports fan, at least according to Lochte’s mother. To the fan who tunes in to swimming once every four years, the standard was set by Michael Phelps and his eight-for-eight gold show in Beijing.
Lochte got co-billing with Phelps as the cover boys of the U.S. swim team. Lochte beat Phelps in the first event, the 400-meter individual medley. On Sunday, Phelps and two other swimmers handed Lochte the lead for the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay. But Yannick Agnel of France passed Lochte, and the U.S. had to settle for the silver.
Lochte’s mother, Ileana, said she was dismayed by the criticism directed at her son.
“I think we take it to heart. He just lets it go,” she said Tuesday. “It’s like everything with Michael, and the controversy between him and Michael. There isn’t any. But we take it to heart, what they write about it.
“When they said that Ryan lost the relays, really? Do you know that he had a best time in that? They don’t know that. They just want gold medals.”
Ryan Lochte noted after the race that he rarely swims the 100 free, and his time of 47.74 seconds indeed was a career best. It also was the third-best time of the four U.S. swimmers, and slower than the time Matt Grevers swam in the preliminaries. Grevers was not selected for the final.
Still, the U.S. would not have won even had Grevers duplicated his time, or had Lochte matched it. Agnel swam his leg in 46.74 seconds. The only better relay split: 46.06, by Jason Lezak of the U.S. four years ago.
To Lochte’s mother, her son did not blow the gold.
“It wasn’t that he lost,” she said. “He got beat. And he got beat in the relay by the second-fastest split ever. Ever. I’m sorry. Sure, I wanted him to win, but guess what? It’s OK. There is another tomorrow.”
Lochte’s mother keeps up with what people are saying about her son in the most modern of ways.
“I try not to pay attention to it, but I have the Google alerts on my computer,” she said. “Obviously, I get all of that, and all the little blogs, and the fights that go on between one and the other.”