Dec 18, 2012, 8:44 PM EST
Hanging around for the medal ceremony at a big swim event doesn’t get much better for a kid than when he gets an Olympic star’s autograph. Oh wait, yes it does … like when that star gives you his gold medal. Wait, what?
Imagine nine-year-old Arda Cakmak’s shock when Lochte approached him in the stands, and instead of giving him an autograph, draped his 200 IM gold medal around the boy’s neck. Lochte had just broken his own world record in the event at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday, and young Cakmak had been waiting patiently in the stands for an autograph during the medal ceremony.
Insane? Lochte’s logic actually made a lot of sense.
“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.”
That wasn’t the only hardware Lochte gave out at the event. Two days earlier, he gave his silver medal in the 100 IM to another kid (below).
“I remember when as a kid I looked up to an Olympian superstar,” Lochte said. “I won’t mention his name [but] 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.”
Lochte later tweeted a picture of himself with Cakmak, writing “He’s a winner in my book!”
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