Ryan Lochte swims to the gold medal on Saturday in London. Michael Phelps… (Lee Jin-man / Associated…)
LONDON -- The swimmer crushed the field and flirted with a world record for about 350 meters and won the first gold medal for the United States at the London Olympics.
Only it was Ryan Lochte, not Michael Phelps, taking center stage after a punishing win in the men’s 400-meter individual medley, winning in 4 minutes 5.18 seconds. The only remaining element of suspense was if Phelps would win a medal at all in the event, and if Lochte would break the world record.
No and no.
Phelps, who holds 14 Olympic gold medals, won this event at the Games in 2004 and 2008 but finished fourth Saturday in 4:09.28. Thiago Pereira of Brazil was second and 17-year-old Kosuke Hagino of Japan took the bronze.
PHOTOS: Duel in the pool
But Lochte is the reigning world champion in the 400 IM and Phelps barely squeaked into the eight-man final, qualifying in the eight spot for which he was relegated to Lane 8.
“I put the work in, so I know it’s my time and I’m ready,” said Lochte in a TV interview on the pool deck after winning.
Said Phelps, in review: “Just a crappy race. I felt fine the first 200. I don't know. I don't think the lane has anything to do with it. It's just really frustrating to start off on a bad note like this.
“It's pretty upsetting. The biggest thing now is to try to get past this and move forward. I was lucky to get in. I had a chance to put myself in a good spot to start off, and I didn't do it.”
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