The diamond grill and Speedo aren't being retired just yet. Get ready, Rio de Janeiro, because Ryan Lochte plans to be coming your way in four years.
After winning two gold medals, two silvers and a bronze in London, the U.S. swimming star told Matt Lauer on TODAY Friday that he has his sights set on a berth in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Lochte also celebrated his 28th birthday on the set of TODAY with a pool-shaped cake and his signature sunglasses.
“By all means, I’m going another four years,’’ Lochte said about his future Olympic plans. “There’s no question about it, I’m going another four.’’
Lochte will turn 32 during the 2016 Olympics, so he will be a grizzled veteran competing mostly against swimmers in their early 20s. His main rival, Olympic legend Michael Phelps, is a year younger than him at 27. Phelps has already announced that London will be the final Olympics in his brilliant career, but Lochte wants to keep competing.
“It has been a long four years, but I’m having a blast swimming,’’ Lochte said. “I love just getting up on the blocks and racing the top people in the world. I get excited for that.’’
Lochte came in second behind Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley on Thursday, his final duel in the pool with his rival. The pair split in two head-to-head races in London, with Lochte blasting to a three-second victory in the 400-meter individual medley before Phelps beat him on Thursday to bring his Olympic record to 16 gold medals and 20 overall.
“I think me and Michael is going to go down as one of the greatest rivalries in the history of swimming,’’ he said. “I’m just happy that I was a part of that.’’
Only 31 minutes after he won a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke on Thursday, Lochte had to regroup for his showdown in the 200 individual medley with Phelps. Phelps got out ahead of him early with a dominant butterfly leg and did not relinquish the lead.
“I knew that’s what he was going to do,’’ Lochte said. “His butterfly is so strong. That’s one of his strongest strokes, so I knew if I had any kind of a fighting chance I would have to go with him. It kind of hurt me towards the end.’’
The Lochte-Phelps rivalry was one of the main storylines heading into London, with many swimming experts predicting this would be Lochte’s time to shine after being in the shadow of Phelps during the 2008 Olympics. Lochte won five medals to bring his career total to 11 medals.
“I’m always going there to win,’’ Lochte said. “I’m not going there for second. I’m going there for the gold, and sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but overall I’m pretty happy.’’
Lochte also dismissed the notion that his bulked-up physique had anything to do with his inability to dominate the way many had predicted he would. Leading up to London, he had been doing strongman workouts like flipping giant tires.
“I don’t think I bulked up too much,’’ he said. “I think it was perfect just because I’ve gotten a lot faster since I’ve gotten a lot bigger, and it’s just all the extra training that I’ve been doing. I know it helped me out a lot, so I’m just going to stay hopefully the same.’’
Leading up to London, Lochte was asked by Lauer what headline he would write about the Olympics and he replied, “Lochte takes over.’’ Now that the competition is over, he isn't sure how he would sum up his performance.
“That’s hard to say, just because I had some up-and-down swims at this Olympics,’’ Lochte said. “I’m just going to have to wait and see what the actual media says.’’
Bonus cute birthday pic