ryan lochte’s bad night in rio

ryan lochte is one of the most decorated olympians ever.  but his presence at the rio olympics will be forever connected to the altercation he and three teammates had at a gas station.

lochte pointing at the gold medal he won in rio
ryan lochte pointing at what made him famous

lochte’s original explanation of the incident didn’t mention a gas station. supposedly he and his friends were robbed at gunpoint. rio’s police chief denied this account, but his version of events also raised doubts, specifically that the swimmers vandalized the gas station restroom.  gradually over the past two weeks the media has attempted to construct a clearer picture of what happened.

fun esl practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

this headline from an article by steve tobak at foxbusiness.com asks

What Did Ryan Lochte Really Do?

tobak describes himself as a

former high-tech executive who made a living travelling to foreign countries and negotiating high-stakes deals with big corporations

former means that’s what he used to do. high-stakes means important or worth a lot of money. he offers this detail about himself as evidence that he knows what it’s like to do something stupid in a foreign country and have to deal with the language barrier.

lochte security cam
lochte on a surveillance video from the gas station where all the trouble started

summarizing the information now available about what lochte and his friends did, tobak said

it now appears that nobody actually entered the gas station restroom, let alone broke down the door and vandalized a mirror and a soap dispenser, as the rio police chief claimed at a news conference. and it seems the four swimmers were shaken down by police with guns moonlighting as security guards.

actually means in fact, it has no connection to time. it is NOT the same as actualmente in spanish. let alone means much less. lochte was accused of breaking down the door of the restroom at the gas station, but he and his friends didn’t even use the restroom.  so he definitely didn’t break down the door.  break down means open or remove the door by force. claim means say but without verfication.  shake down means extort. moonlight refers to working a second job.

breaking down a door
apparently noboby actually tried to break down the restroom door at the gas station in rio.

again, based on his own personal experience, tobak defends lochte

granted, you might not call that being robbed at gunpoint, as lochte originally claimed, but then, i bet you’ve never had a gun pointed at you or been threatened by police in a foreign country, as i have. let me tell you, it feels just like that. it’s pretty scary stuff.

by using granted, tobak concedes that lochte overstated what happened when he first told the story.  i bet indicates a high probability.  threaten means the police were trying to intimidate the swimmers.  pretty can mean different levels of intensity depending on context and tone.  in this example, pretty scary is scarier than average.

michael phelps and ryan lochte in athens
ryan lochte (right) poses with michael phelps at the athens olympics in 2004.

tobak minimizes lochte’s embellishment (exaggeration)of what happened, even reducing it to an afterthought

almost forgot: he also exaggerated the story. but then, who hasn’t in this sordid mess?

sordid means ugly, dirty.

lochte’s 2013 reality show

and tobak used this hypothetical in the past (3rd conditional) to suggest an easier solution to the problem was available

had lochte kept his mouth shut, nobody would have known what happened.

but the fact is, lochte didn’t keep his mouth shut. he threw the city of rio under the bus (blamed them), probably in a drunk moment of anger and payback, and the negative publicity the city received leading up to the olympics made his story seem credible for an hour or two.

lochte's gold in rio
lochte biting the gold medal he won in rio (jason getz-usa today sports)

steve tobak’s article gives the impression that the bad guys in this whole mess were the rio police. but ryan showed remorse when he came clean (told the truth) about still being pretty fucked up (intoxicated) when he first told the story to the media.

lochte lauer
an apologetic ryan lochte talks with matt lauer. (today.com)

ryan apologized in an interview with nbc’s matt lauer.

i’ve heard some commentators call the interview where lochte talked openly about what really happened an insincere non-apology. they must have been watching a different video than the one I saw.

tobak believes lochte’s apology.  must in the past here (also 3rd conditional) is sarcastic.  he knows everyone saw the same video. they just disagree on its sincerity.

in this clip from the apology, matt lauer recognizes the negativity that that rio dealt with (faced) going into the games and how it was magnified by ryan, a high-profile u.s. athlete saying he was held up (robbed) at gunpoint. ryan apologizes for tarnishing (diminishing the value of) the great olympics that they put on (hosted).

tarnished silverware
tarnish is used to describe metal that isn’t shiny anymore.

what are your feelings about this story? should ryan lochte be punished? do u believe his apology? share your perspective under leave a reply


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