(RIO DE JANEIRO) — While Ryan Lochte’s unexpected bleached hairdo at the Rio Olympics had heads spinning, Lochte’s mom defended his decision to go blond, calling her son’s new look “cute.”
“He always does something. It’s better than the grills, okay,” Ileana Lochte, who goes by Ike, said Thursday on ABC News’ Good Morning America, referring to the infamous American flag dental grill her son debuted at the 2012 Olympics. “I’ve gotten used to everything that he possibly could do and so this is an okay thing.”
“It didn’t hurt anybody,” she said of Lochte’s hair, which appeared to turn a shade of green after he competed in the pool. “I didn’t like it but he looks cute.”
Lochte, 32, won his first gold medal at this year’s Summer Olympics Tuesday in the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay, which he swam with teammate Michael Phelps.
“Of course they want to beat each other in the water but outside of the water they’re just best of friends and you can see up on the podium when they’re even laughing,” Ike said of Phelps and her son. “They’re great and also his mom and I are friends too so it makes it that much closer, the ties.”
She said she “wouldn’t want to be anywhere else” than cheering on her son in Rio. Lochte will compete again Thursday night in the final of the men’s 200-meter individual medley.
“Just watching him swim, and knowing that he’s so happy doing the sport that he loves, you know, I couldn’t be any prouder,” she said.
The Olympian’s mom is one of several Olympic parents who have revealed that they pack their children goodie bags when they head off to major competitions.
“It gets a little bit bigger and bigger each time,” Ike said of the tradition she started when Lochte was young. “This time we had a water bottle, a jug that represents the fact that in 2008 he wasn’t allowed to drink the water so he brushed his teeth and was sick for three days.”
“So this time I put all the candy in there so he can have that,” she said. “And then I put some drawing [tools], a pad and crayons and coloring, anything to keep him entertained.”
Going the extra mile for their loved ones is typical for families of Olympic athletes.
The parents of U.S. Olympic diver David Boudia, who won silver in the men’s synchronized 10m platform event in Rio, said they gave up taking family vacations long ago. The family is attending their third Olympics with their son this year.
“We did away with vacations,” Jim Boudia told GMA. “No family vacations, it was a sporting event to go here or there.”
“I actually worked for the coach, which paid for his diving lessons,” said David’s mother, Sheilagh Boudia. “We just did a lot of juggling.”
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