It’s been an interesting week for Season 23 “Dancing With the Stars” contestant Ryan Lochte. The Olympic swimmer opened up about his experience so far on the ABC competition show, admitting that it’s been hard for him to stay positive after protestors stormed the stage during last week’s premiere.
“Everything that happened last week, just getting back to rehearsal, learning a new dance and just trying to stay positive through the whole time was really challenging for me,” he told E! News following his Week 2 performance. “But I got through it with the help of her [partner Cheryl Burke], with the help of my family now from ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and I just … I quick stepped!”
Ryan said the hardest thing about the protestors disrupting his and Cheryl’s critiques last week was that his mother had to witness it from the audience. However, he said his mom is still extremely supportive of him. “My mom will always stick by me. … She didn’t deserve that and she didn’t need to see that,” he said. “But she came out there smiling; she started crying because she was so happy for me.”
Last Monday, two men bombarded the ballroom floor. The protestors were identified as Sam Sotoodeh and Barzeen Soroudi. In an interview with ABC News following their arrest, Sotoodeh and Soroudi said they protested Ryan’s performance because he and the three other members of the United States Olympic swimming team “embarrassed Americans” by lying about getting robbed at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “Our purpose is to get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar and under Brazilian law, a criminal,” Sotoodeh said.
Ahead of Ryan and Cheryl’s Week 2 performance, the cast of “Dancing With the Stars” all wore shirts with his name in a heart. Cheryl also penned a touching message on Instagram saying that her heart was aching for the swimmer and his family. “No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them. We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards,” she posted. “Let’s all just be positive for each other. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the security team at Dancing with the Stars. Love you all.”