Olympic champions Ryan Lochte and Laurie Hernandez both cried while preparing for Monday’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars.”
The week’s theme was the contestants’ most memorable year. Lochte and Hernandez are among the final nine contestants, seeking to become the fifth Olympian to win the mirror ball trophy.
Lochte said his most memorable year was 2008, which brought tearful memories of the Beijing Games for the newly engaged swimmer.
The 12-time Olympic medalist recalled his first individual gold medal, taking the 200m backstroke in world-record time at the Water Cube and beating the defending champion Aaron Peirsol despite his suit coming undone in the first 50 meters.
“I just remember touching that wall, looking up at the scoreboard and seeing Ryan Lochte, world-record holder, first place,” Lochte said in a taped segment on Monday’s show while wiping his eyes. “It was the happiest moment of my life.”
Lochte’s fiancée, Playboy model Kayla Rae Reid, joined Lochte before Monday night’s show.
“We have been dating for a little under a year, but it’s insane, we’ve been through so may ups and downs, so many hard times together that we’ve overcome,” she said in a Facebook live video. “I feel like normal people dating this long wouldn’t really have gone through that many things. It’s brought us so close. It’s weird. I’m still in shock. My brain is like a mashed potato right now.”
Of the engagement, Lochte said he took Reid on a helicopter ride over West Hollywood, to the Santa Monica Pier and up to Malibu, where they were dropped “on top of a mountain” with a picnic, roses and champagne.
“He was being so awkward the whole time,” Reid said. “I was like, ‘What is wrong with you?'”
Hernandez broke down while practicing with partner Val Chmerkovskiy, having difficulty learning a new dance move. She reflected on her myriad injuries before making the Olympic team at age 16 this year.
“I think the worst is when people just assume, she’s young, she’s healthy, she’s athletic, and they don’t see that I went through a lot of stuff before finally making it,” Hernandez said, adding that she “bottles up” emotions in gymnastics.
Chmerkovskiy said Hernandez has been shedding tears “since week one” on the show.Follow @nzaccardi