LONDON – There was a shocking result in the very first swimming race at the London Olympics.
American swimmer Ryan Lochte won the men’s 400-meter individual medley (4:05.18) by an impressive margin of more than three and a half seconds, capturing the gold medal.
Brazil’s Thiago Pereira took the silver (4:08.86) and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino got the bronze (4:08.94).
While Lochte himself is a star and was one of the favorites, it was the placement of his superstar teammate Michael Phelps that came as a big surprise. The record-setting eight-time Olympic gold medalist in Beijing had narrowly qualified for the final out of the morning heats and ended up fourth.
Phelps did not hide his disappointment.
“It’s frustrating. It’s all I can say," he admitted. "You know, it’s pretty upsetting. But I think the biggest thing now is just to try to get past this and move forward. I mean I have a bunch of other races and hopefully we can finish a lot better than how we started.”
Lochte said he was surprised Phelps was not next to him on the podium.
"I mean whenever Michael swims he’s always on the medal stand, no matter what," Lochte noted. "But he did 110%. He gave it everything he had.”
But it was not enough this time, and Lochte won the difficult race that features all four strokes: butterfly, back, breast and freestyle.
“Feels amazing that knowing the last four years I’ve put in that hard work that it finally paid off," Lochte said during post-race press conference, "and to not only swim for my country but to have my whole entire family there in the stands cheering for me definitely gave me a little bit more of a boost.”
Lochte was asked if Phelps had anything to say to him after the race.
“He came up to me and he congratulated me and he said ‘Way to go’ and ‘we haven’t lost the 400 IM for the USA in a long time, so way to keep it going,” Lochte said.
The first swimming world record of these Games came on the opening night in the women’s 400-meter individual medley. China’s Ye Shiwen clocked 4:28.43 seconds to break the four-year-old mark (4:29.45) by about one second set at the last Olympics by Australian Stephanie Rice, who placed sixth Saturday. American Elizabeth Beisel won the silver (4:31.27) and China’s Lu Xuanxu got the bronze (4:32.91).
Photo Gallery: Olympics Day 1
China’s Sun Yang took the gold medal in the men’s 400-meter freestyle, and Australia earned gold in the women’s 4x100 meter freestyle relay, with the Netherlands getting silver and the USA bronze.
Earlier Saturday evening, the U.S. men’s archery team upset three-time defending champion South Korea in the semifinals (224-219). But in a dramatic battle for the gold medal, Italy’s last archer scored a 10 when his arrow landed on the ring to give his nation a one-point victory, 219-218.
South Korea won the bronze in a shoot-off against Mexico.
Photo Gallery: Michael Phelps