Star American swimmer Ryan Lochte picked up his fourth medal of these Olympic Games on Day 6 as he won a bronze in the men's 200-meter backstroke event at the Aquatic Center.
Lochte finished with a time of one minute, 53.94 seconds behind American teammate Tyler Clary, who took the gold, and Japan's Ryosuke Irie, who won silver. Lochte led for the first 150 meters, but both Clary and Irie closed on him and passed him in the final 50 meters.
Lochte already secured a gold in the 400-meter individual medley, another gold in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay and a silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. He is one of the most decorated swimmers thus far in the London Olympics and his 200-meter backstroke medal only served to further that.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Team USA swimming heading into London, and while both Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin have fallen a bit short of expectations to this point, Lochte has been every bit as good as advertised, although many would consider a bronze to be somewhat of a disappointment.
The 27-year-old Lochte can probably be accurately called the new face of American swimming with Phelps set to hang up his goggles once the London Games are officially over. Many thought that Lochte entered these Games as the top American male swimmer ahead of Phelps anyway, and that may have been proven true.
Although the backstroke isn't considered Lochte's signature event, he performed extremely well and surely did world-record holder and retired American swimmer Aaron Peirsol proud. Peirsol finished second to Lochte in this event back in 2008, and Lochte continued his excellent run in London. From Lochte's point of view, however, anything less than first was probably a letdown.
The 200-meter backstroke has been a top event for American men over the years as they have won at least one medal in it every Olympics since 1996. In fact, there have only been four Olympic Games in which this race was contested and an American man failed to medal.
Only the 200-meter individual medley remains on Lochte's Olympic program and he has a great chance to take gold as he is the world-record holder and easily qualified with the top time. Lochte will have to deal with Phelps, however, and the race will take place just 30 minutes following the 200-meter backstroke. A gold or a medal of any kind would give Lochte a haul of five in London and 11 over the course of his Olympic career.
I doubt that anyone will challenge Phelps' career medals record in the near future, but if Lochte competes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016 and performs well, then he can certainly move his name up the list and be considered an all-time great Olympian in his own right.
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