Olympics swimming: Rochte claims gold, Phelps off podium (Lead)

July 29th, 2012 - 5:17 am ICT by IANS  

Ryan Lochte London, July 29 (IANS) US swimming sensation Ryan Lochte stole the headlines at the London Olympics swimming Saturday with a emphatic win in the men’s 400 metres individual medley, while the illustrious Michael Phelps was shut out of a medal.

Lochte, a three-time Olympic champion, led from the very beginning to touch wall first at 4:05.18. Brazilian swimmer Thiago Pereira finished second at 4:08.86, while Japanese Yuya Horihata settled for a bronze at 4:08.94, Xinhua reported.

Phelps was shut out of medals with a fourth place at 4:09.28.

During the gruelling race, Lochte was already in the lead by the time he surfaced following his initial dive off the starting block. He had an one-second lead after the opening butterfly leg and expanded that to two seconds over the backstroke and three seconds after the breaststroke leg.

Roared on by a capacity crowd, he carried on his streak and powered home in the freestyle leg to win by over three seconds.

Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold winner and long-time master of the 400 metres individual medley event, fell out of the podium in the first of his seven events at which he called his last Olympics.

Lochte, who last year emerged from Phelps’s shadow with five titles at the World Championships in Shanghai — including 200 metres freestyle and 200 metres individual medley victories over Phelps — lost to Phelps in three out of four events at the US trials last month.

On Saturday, Lochte eclipsed the illustrious Phelps by an undeniable win of over four seconds and rose to a realm of his own.

“I think I am in shock. I knew I was capable of winning,” said Lochte. “I heard the fans screaming and was cheered up.”

Phelps was disappointed in screwing up his first event, admitting his rivals were better prepared.

“I felt fine for the first 200 meters, but in the last 100 meters they swam better and that’s why they got medals. They were more prepared,” said Phelps.

“It’s frustrating to start on a bad note, its upsetting, but the biggest thing is to get past it and to move forward. I hope I can finish better than I started,” he added.

“I was lucky to get up, I had the chance for a good start to the Games and didn’t take it,” said the 27-year-old.

Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman was also surprised with the flop. “I honestly don’t think it was a fitness issue. I thought he was in a good place mentally,” he said.

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