TOKYO, Japan — When Ryan Murphy won bronze in Tokyo in the 100-meter backstroke, news media reports and social media posts were loaded with phrases, such as, "disappointment for Murphy" and "Murphy falls short" and worse.
Yes, it's factual that he was hoping for gold. He won three gold medals in the Rio Olympics in 2016, including gold in the 100 meter. He had also broken Olympic and World records in that event.
The bronze, rather than gold in the 100m in Tokyo, meant for the first time since 1992, the USA male swimmers lost a backstroke race at the Olympics.
He came to Tokyo with some calling him the King of the Backstroke.
Obviously, the pressure was on.
Katy Murphy says, "I really believe people need to understand in sports these athletes are giving 100% and, given they're coming off a pandemic that disrupted their entire plan, people need to be celebrating their accomplishments."
She says the extra mean comments are "hard on families and... hard on the athletes. Just look at Simone Biles."
It's not that Murphy's mom is not realistic about the pressure Olympians choose to put on themselves. The world is watching. The opportunity for great fame is in their hands.
But, she is encouraging a change in attitude and, she says, "change little titles from 'Ryan Murphy doesn't repeat gold' to 'Ryan Murphy got the bronze. He got another medal for his country. It's amazing.'"
Murphy's mom says he is excited to race in his last solo race in Tokyo, the 200 meter, a race he also won gold in during the Rio Olympics. She says he's prepared.
She says, "I couldn't begin to predict the results. But I can say he's enjoyed the process and I hope he swims fearless. And that's all I can ask for."