Ryan Lochte shattered his own world record in winning the 200m individual medley at the world short course championships on Friday and celebrated by tossing his gold medal away.
The 28-year-old New Yorker, an 11-time Olympic medallist, finished in 1 minute, 49.63 seconds en route to a fourth consecutive gold medal at Sinan Erdem Arena.
His previous record had been 1:50.08 set in December, 2010, in Dubai. Japan’s Daiya Seto clocked 1:52.80 to add the silver medal to the gold he won in the 400m individual medley, and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary won bronze in 1:52.89.
It had already been a stellar meeting for Lochte after he had won gold in the 200m freestyle, 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays. But he stunned the crowd by handing his gold medal to a 10-year-old boy who had been patiently waiting for the American’s autograph. “I give them all away. One of the main reasons for racing is because of my fans, so I always want to give something back,” said Lochte, who now has 27 short course medals including 18 gold.
“If I took the medal it would end up in a sock drawer, if I give it to a fan they’re going to treasure it. It will make their day or even their life. To see that smile on that little face means everything to me.” Lochte wasted no time in taking the lead on Friday and by the end of the butterfly stage he was already under world record time. He held his pace over the backstroke, then stretched his lead further in the breaststroke.
By the time he turned for the freestyle leg he was well clear of his rivals and powered his way to the wall for his fourth gold medal of these championships and his 18th in world short-course championship history. Lu Ying and Jiao Liuyang led home a gold and silver finish for China in the women's 50m butterfly.
China’s first gold
Lu clocked 25.14sec to win China’s first gold of the championships, while Jiao followed her home at the Sinan Erdem Arena in 25.23. Paul Biedermann defended his men’s 400m freestyle title, but he needed to be at his best after China’s Hao Yun had gone out strongly from lane eight.