Before Ryan Lochte took the podium Saturday to receive his gold medal for the 400 IM, an Olympics official (who undoubtedly hates the music of Paul Wall) warned Lochte that he would not receive the medal if he took the stand with his signature red, white and blue grills lining his teeth. According to Wayne Drehs of ESPN:
Lochte told me he tried to wear his grill on the podium only to have an Olympics official tell him if he did so he wouldn’t get his gold.
— Wayne Drehs (@espnWD) July 28, 2012
Personally, if Lochte wanted to wear his grills (or grillz, for those of you more familiar with the colloquial spelling), I’d go ahead and let him. I’m not really sure how much integrity the games would lose by allowing Lochte to adorn those pearly whites in braces on the medal stand, which I presume was this particular official’s logic in giving Lochte the ultimatum, but come on, at least let the guy have a little fun.
I understand the degree of ceremonial sanctity that goes along with receiving Olympic gold. The world watches (on tape delay) as you stand tall above the runners-up while your national anthem plays loudly and proudly in the background. It’s an age-old ritual that traditionalists want medalists to respect and take seriously, and I get that. But to deny a guy a medal because there might have been an unexpected shine reflecting from his teeth as he mouthed along to his country’s anthem?
Let traditionalism take a back seat to a gold medalist who just wants to savor the moment in his own unique way. No doubt Lochte will have a few more opportunities in London to upset a few more disgruntled officials.
[Yahoo Sports, photo: Getty]