Swimming : No more top dog for underdog Lochte

Wed Aug 3, 2016 5:13pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Ryan Lochte was a top dog in the U.S. Olympic swimming team in London four years ago, but he felt more like an ageing underdog as he celebrated his 32nd birthday at the Rio Games on Wednesday.

As 31-year-old room mate Michael Phelps told a million followers on Instagram in a message accompanying a photograph of the pair of them, the friends and rivals are "the old dudes on the team now".

Lochte, who has 11 Olympic medals (five golds) from three Games compared to Phelps's record haul of 22 (18 golds) from four, repeated the picture with the additional hashtag #oldmanriver.

Sporting a striking new blue-grey hair look, with the jury out on the exact tint under the media center spotlights, Lochte said he felt the same thrill in Rio as he had at his first Games.

But he acknowledged he was in a different position with a younger generation coming through.

"The lead-up to this Games is a lot different than I guess 2012," he told reporters.

"I think I had more of a target on my back in 2012. Since the past couple of years haven't been up to par for myself and my standards, I think I'm the underdog now.

"Given what I've accomplished in the sport it doesn't seem that way, but for me personally I feel like I am the underdog. So that's really good for my mindset going into this Olympics that I'm the underdog and I have to earn my spot on the podium."   Continued...

Aug 3, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, USA; USA swimmer Ryan Lochte during a press conference at the MPC Samba Room prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports