All eyes may have been on Team USA swimmer Michael Phelps last night, but East Bay residents celebrated athletes closer to home as UC Berkeley alum Nathan Adrian added not one, not two but four gold medals to his collection, while current Cal Bear Ryan Murphy shined in his Olympic debut.
By Saturday, Adrian, 27, brought his total tally to a whopping eight medals. Although he’s still got a ways to go before he can compete with Phelps’ record-breaking 23 medals, his road to Rio has been a particularly moving experience and a total game changer, according to the athlete himself.
“We proved we are on top of the swimming world,” he told reporters in Rio. “I’m proud of the work we put in – not just me, but everyone.”
As for his medals, he said "they get bigger every time" and that they definitely are a little heavy. He was kind enough to let NBC Bay Area's Jessica Aguirre hold one, and she confirmed -- this year's colorful medals are certainly not something either novice or Olympic swimmers would be wise to swim with.
For Adrian, 27, Saturday’s 4X100 race also meant sharing a special moment with Phelps, who announced his retirement via Facebook Live on Saturday, while also celebrating fellow Murphy's first win.
“More special being with Ryan, setting that world record, and Michael being his last race, I get to take credit for a small part of that,” he explained
Like Adrian, Ryan credits getting to know his teammates and sending Phelps off with gold as the zenith of his Rio trip.
“My biggest memories are chillin’ in the suite with all the guys, and getting to know Michael and Lochte,” he said. “I wanted to send Michael out with a gold.”
While Phelps is preparing to venture out into a post-swimming career, Murphy will head back to school on August 22, when UC Berkeley kicks off its Fall Semester, and complete his remaining 29 units for his degree in business administration. For Adrian, the future is brimming with potential as he sets his sights on competing in Tokyo at the next Olympics.