|My American idol: Turkish fan Arda Cakmak, 10, posing with the gold medal Ryan Lochte gave him beside a life-size paper board of the American swimmer.|
ISTANBUL: 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 1:49.63 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.
Lu Ying clocked 25.14 to win China’s first gold of the championships, while Liuyang 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.
Eventually, the German caught Hao Yun in the final 50m and touched home in 3:39.15, while Hao Yun took silver with 3:39.48. Bronze went to Denmark’s Mads Glaesner, who finished in 3:40.09.
Vladimir Morozov held off the challenge of two Olympic champions to win gold in the 50m freestyle and secure Russia’s first gold of the championships.
The Russian swam in lane five between 2012 Olympic champion Florent Manaudou and 2000 champion Anthony Ervin, but he shrugged off their pressure to win in 20.55 seconds, while Manaudou won the silver in 20.88 and Ervin bronze in 20.99.
Daniel Gyurta came close to breaking his own 200m breaststroke world record, but in the end he had to be content with a new championship record of 2:01.35 as he won gold.
Britain’s Michael Jamieson clocked 2:03.00 to add a silver medal to the one he won in the 200m breaststroke at the Olympics, while Russia’s Viatcheslav Sinkevich made a late charge to win bronze in 2:03.08. — AFP