South Charlotte’s Ricky Berens got his London gold medal.
After falling short in his first two events of the 2012 Olympic Games, Berens swam the third leg of the United States’ first-place men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay team on July 31.
The win provided Berens with his second Olympic gold medal, as the South Mecklenburg High School graduate also was a member of the first-place 4×200 at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Four years ago, Berens joined Ryan Lochte, Peter Vanderkaay and the legendary Michael Phelps to win gold – and set a world record – in the 4×200 with a time of 6 minutes, 58.56 seconds. This year, Berens teamed with Lochte, Phelps and Conor Dwyer to clock in at 6:59.70.
Lochte swam the opening leg of this week’s race and got the Americans off to a comfortable lead. Then, Dwyer took to the pool and maintained the lead, although it wasn’t quite as big. But Berens, who’s one of the nation’s — and world’s — best in the 200, dove in and increased the margin for Team USA, which made things easier for Phelps on the anchor leg.
This week’s gold medal was the perfect ending to Berens’ stint in London. Earlier in the Games, he swam in the preliminaries of the 4×100 relay. But a new foursome was chosen for the finals, and the Americans narrowly were beaten by France to wind up taking a silver medal.
Berens failed to reach the finals in his only individual event of the Games, the 200 freestyle, ultimately taking ninth place.
But closing with a gold medal in the 4×200 seemed to make up for any disappointment that might’ve existed for Berens. A short time after winning, Berens posted a photo of his newest hardware on his Twitter page with the following message:
“Hot off the medal stand!!! Gold medal baby!!!! Great racing with the best in the world!!”
C. Jemal Horton, email@example.com