After Ryan Lochte was snubbed by his childhood hero, he vowed never to do the same to any kid.
“I remember when as a kid I looked up to an Olympian superstar,” Lochte recalled. “I won’t mention his name. I asked for an autograph and he said ‘no’. I told my parents that if I ever get in the same position, I’ll do it.”
And so Lochte has always been a fan favorite, handing out medals to random spectators during his swim competitions. In fact, this weekend, at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, he decided to present his gold medal to 9-year-old Arda Cakmak.
“One of the main reasons for racing is because of my fans, so I always want to give something back,” Lochte said. “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.”