Gold and silver medals weren’t the only sparkling accessories at last weekend’s Olympic events. Swimmer Ryan Lochte, who won the gold for the 400-meter Individual Medley, made an eye-popping style choice to celebrate his gold medal. The swimmer donned an impressive diamond-encrusted grill and bared his twinkling teeth for the world to see. The Olympic committee has since banned Lochte from wearing his grill, lending him to the ranks of grill-wearing rule breakers.
This is not the first time Lochte has sported a custom grill. He had one made for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2009 World Championship in Rome, and the 2011 World Championship in Shanghai. One would think that beating household name Michael Phelps was news enough, but it was Lochte’s grill that made headlines. The custom piece of diamond jewelry made of red, white, and blue diamonds forms an American flag pattern across Lochte’s victorious grin. According to sources, Lochte popped the grill in after winning the 400-meter medley but was unable to wear it on the podium while accepting the medal. Apparently, officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stepped in and banned Lochte from continuing to wear the grill. What’s more, tweets from ESPN’s Wayne Dreh’s stated that Lochte would not receive his gold medal if he wore the grill on the winner’s podium.
Style Statement or a Matter of Pride?
Mark Adams, official spokesman of the IOC, ventured a guess that perhaps the issue wasn’t Lochte showing off, but rather an issue of violating his official Olympic uniform. Swimmers in the Olympics must have FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) approved suits months before the games begin, but does an ounce (or in this case, several carats) or personal style warrant this kind of warning? Let’s maintain a bit of perspective: this is not the worst scandal in Olympic history.
In 1994, the buzz about Olympic figure skating revolved around Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. Many will remember a chilling video in which a man approached Kerrigan at a pre-Olympic practice and clubbed her in the knee with a collapsible police baton, a plan set in motion by Harding’s ex-husband.
In 2002 in Salt Lake City, an Olympic judge confessed to being bought off to give a better score to the Russian figure skating team. In the same games, a speed-skating referee claimed South Korean skater Kim Dong Sung cut across American skater Apollo Ohno’s path, disqualifying Sung from winning the gold. And let’s not forget the disgrace of Ben Johnson and Marion Jones, both stripped of their medals for using steroids.
Perhaps the IOC went a bit overboard with their ban on Lochte’s grill. If it doesn’t affect the performances of the athlete or his/her competitors, a diamond grill is a stylish way to express one’s patriotism. However, if your diamond grill has stirred up a similar scandal, you can sell it to CashForDiamondsUSA.com.
Marissa Rosado graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA. Her favorite Olympic Event is Badminton.
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