Phelps and I will still be friends, says Lochte
London, July 29 (IANS) "Whatever happens, we will still be friends," was the promise made by Ryan Lochte following his stunning win in the final of the men's 400 metres individual medley Saturday night.
Friends they may be, but after Saturday's showing they may not now be rivals.
Lochte powered home to gold, ahead of Brazil's Thiago Pereira and Japanese swimmer, Kosuko Hakino, with Olympic Champion and 14-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps finishing fourth.
Given the shockwaves caused by Phelps' inability to win a medal, Lochte faces as many questions about his friend and rival as he did about his own magnificent win.
"I'm surprised he didn't get a medal, but he gave it everything he has," said Lochte about Phelps, before praising Phelps' sportsmanship.
"After the race he came to me in the massage area and congratulated me on keeping 400 medley for the US," he added.
Phelps' failure will see questions asked as to whether he is not past his best or lacking motivation in what is his last major meeting. Lochte expects Phelps to fight back.
"Losing will serve to be motivation for him," he assured. "He'll light it up in the next races."
"A lot of people say Michael is inhuman, but he's just like all of us, except he trains harder and he knows how to win. You have to find ways to beat him, but there are other athletes out there, so you have to learn how to race, you can't just focus on one person," continued Lochte, who has never lacked self-confidence."
"Going into every race since I was eight years, old I have always felt that I was going to win. There is pride in winning this race though as (Michael) had won the 400 metres medley in the two previous Olympics," he said, confident that the gold medal to open the way for more to follow.
"I am sure it will help me out in the rest of my swims," said Lochte, who admitted he has seen a dream come true.
"When I was about 11 or 12 was when I started to dream of an individual gold medal at the Olympics. I knew the sacrifices I had to make in my training and it is worth it," he assured.
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