All that chatter leading into the Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte battle can be set aside for now. Following their immaculate come-from-behind 4x100 victory in Beijing, the United States was sitting in ideal contention for a repeat.
Jason Lezak, where are you?
The anchor of the 4x100 relay is normally the strongest swimmer of the pack. That is where the men separate themselves from the boys. Only this time, Lochte was unable to hold up his end of the bargain. Simply put, the stage was too daunting of a task to complete and he let a gold medal slip by.
Regarding the pool deck, London is supposed to be the coming-of-age Olympics for Lochte. With Phelps’ ship setting sail after the conclusion of London, men's swimming may have to turn to Missy Franklin for some helpful advice.
Rather than establishing himself as the hunter, Lochte was assuming the role of the hunted. France’s Yannick Agnel was a workhorse. He covered up the lost ground and then some, as he lifted France into the gold medal position.
Not to disintegrate Lochte's performance thus far, but he needs to rebound in an emphatic way to prove he has what it takes. He has the appropriate tools to maneuver his way toward a victory, he just needs to put them in order.
The pommel is what sparked an uncharacteristic collapse of sorts for the USA. A domino effect if you will. The spectacle we witnessed with a first-place qualifier in the preliminary round didn't exactly transfer to center stage.
The onset of tears that protruded from John Orozco's face spoke volumes for the way the night was panning out for himself and the team's lackluster performance.
They capped off the evening with a total score of 269.952 points, which was good for fifth place.
Don't count out the United States just yet. Despite the team competition, the individual events should reconcile the disappointment. Throwing Monday's tragedy aside, there is still hope in Danell Levya in the all-around competition.
Levya's strongest element of his game is the horizontal bars, which was proven when he brought home the gold at the World Championships a year ago. If he can corral his pommel mistakes and rally his floor routine together, Levya should wind up standing atop the podium.