Olympic Hero Gives Medal Away to Kid!

Ryan Lochte, with his back to the camera, gave 9-year-old Arda Cakmak a medal that Lochte won at an international swimming tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.  Arda is the boy in the orange shirt. By all accounts, 9-year-old Arda Cakmak was asking only for an autograph.

But he got a whole lot more – a gold medal.

Arda was in the stands earlier this month at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, when US swimming star Ryan Lochte set a new world record in the 200-meter individual medley.

After the race, Arda and a bunch of other kids got Lochte’s attention, hoping to get his signature on a piece of paper.

But Lochte had a different idea.

To the kids’ surprise, he took the gold medal off of his own neck and put it around Arda’s.

Why did he do it?

“One of the main reasons for racing is because of my fans,” he told reporters in Istanbul.  “So I always want to give something back.”

Lochte says it also goes back to something that happened to him when he was a kid.

“As a kid, I looked up to an Olympian superstar,” he said.  “I asked for (him) an autograph.  And he said, ‘No.’”

Of course, Lochte is now an “Olympian superstar” himself.

He has won 11 Olympic medals, including five golds.

But the rejection and disappointment he felt as a kid made a lasting impression on him.

“I told my parents that if I ever get in the same position, I’ll (sign the autograph),” he added.

Lochte won six gold medals and a silver at the tournament in Istanbul.

So it’s not like he was going to go home empty-handed.

Still, giving away any medal is pretty unusual.

Lochte, however, looks at it this way:  “If I took the medal, it would end up in a sock drawer,” he told reporters.  “If I give it to a fan, (he’s) going to treasure it.  It will make (his) day or even (his) life.”

It sure looked like it made Arda’s day.

After Lochte draped the medal around the boy’s neck, the boy showed it off to all of his friends.

“To see that smile on that little face means everything to me,” Lochte told reporters.

Some day, many years from now, Arda’s kids might ask him about that medal.

And he’ll tell them about the day he met Ryan Lochte.