British Columbia

Canada's Ryan Cochrane says he let the country down by not winning swim medal

Canada's swim team has an impressive medal count at the Rio Olympics, but its team captain Ryan Cochrane wasn't one of those who made the podium.

Team Canada's swim captain was hoping to get elusive Olympic gold medal at Rio

Canada’s Ryan Cochrane says he feels he let down the country by not making it to the podium at the Rio Olympics. (Clive Rose/Getty Images/File)

Canada's swim team has an impressive medal count at the Rio Olympics, but its team captain, Ryan Cochrane, wasn't one of those who made the podium. 

And the swimmer from Victoria feels he has let Canada down.

"Selfishly, I'm absolutely gutted by my results," he posted on Instagram.

"I feel as if I've let our entire country down by not performing the one time it matters. I take my role as a leader on the Canadian team seriously and because of that I know I should have done better."

At the same time, he also praised the Canadian women's team that raked in the medals at Rio. 

"I'll always regret that I couldn't contribute to our team's success here in Rio, but either way it's been a privilege to be able to witness our women's team's accomplishments." 

The swimmer from Victoria was a strong medal contender and considered one of the brightest stars, but he didn't make it to the men's 400-metre freestyle final nor did he make the podium in the 1,500-metre freestyle. 

But Cochrane has an impressive history, including two Olympic medals and six world championships.

He is the most-decorated swimmer in Canadian history with eight world championship medals, including bronze in both disciplines at last year's FINA world championships in Kazan, Russia.

So did he let down the country?

The reaction on social media was an overwhelming no.

Cochrane's swim club in Victoria, Island Swimming, also stood by him. 

"Thank you for everything you have done for our club. You have inspired a generation of swimmers. You definitely didn't let us down! We are so proud of you," it posted in response to Cochrane's Instagram post. 

Do athletes owe us something?

Canada won't win the race for the medal count in Rio, which is why former Olympian Tom Hall says the Own the Podium program just makes things worse for athletes. 

He says Canada should not focus solely on medals and instead think about inspiring younger Canadians to take up sports. 

"An Olympian who doesn't win a medal has still done something incredible," he told Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio's The 180

"One of the saddest thing for me when watching a sport and especially the Olympics is when an athlete under performs and they're standing there apologizing to Canada.

"No athlete should have to do that, and I think that's actually exacerbated when we focus on medals as an outcome. And not to mention that athletes now know that when they're competing, they're competing for their sports' budgets as well."

In the most recent issue of The Walrus magazine, he said athletes who have had their funding cut have told him it's a "confidence blow."

"​We're never going to actually be the number one country in the world. We don't have enough money or people to beat the U.S or China ... so we can try to beat them and we should, but I think we should also look at what the public funding of sport is meant to do in Canada."