ATHENS — Gunnar Bentz, the first male swimmer in UGA history to win a gold medal in the Olympics, remained in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday after being removed from his U.S.-bound flight by Brazilian authorities on Wednesday.
Fellow U.S. swimmer Jack Conger was also detained from the plane. Police had more questions for the two men, who were among four U.S. swimmers victimized in a reported robbery this past weekend. Jimmy Feigen also remains in Rio and is cooperating with authorities. Ryan Lochte has already returned to the U.S.
There are allegations that their story of being robbed on a taxi ride might be fabricated.
“The three U.S. Olympic swimmers are cooperating with authorities and in the process of scheduling a time and place today to provide further statements to the Brazilian authorities,” said Patrick Sandusky, U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). “All are represented by counsel and being appropriately supported by the USOC and the U.S. Consulate in Rio.”
Jack Bauerle, Bentz’s head coach at Georgia and an assistant for the U.S. Olympic team, also had already returned from Rio by the time the story broke. He said he was back in Athens at 10 a.m. Monday morning.
“Here’s what I can tell you: I’m in constant contact with (Bentz) and I will know much more today,” Bauerle said via text message.
He declined further comment.
Bentz, a rising junior from Atlanta, attended St. Pius X Catholic School. UGA’s swimming contingent of six current student-athletes were all due to return on Wednesday. Bentz intended to start fall classes on Friday.
Here are some things to know about Bentz:
- Bentz, 20, is the son of Steve and Missy Bentz of Atlanta. He is majoring in business at UGA.
- Bentz’s parents were in Rio to watch him swim but left to return to Atlanta after his races concluded last week.
- The 6-foot-5 Bentz is the Bulldogs’ most versatile swimmer and is proficient in all strokes. He is considered one of the nation’s fast-emerging stars.
- By virture of a top-six finish at the U.S. Trials, Bentz was added to the U.S. Olympic team as a “relay alternate.”
- Bentz earned his gold medal by swimming on the 4×200 freestyle relay team in the preliminary round on Aug. 9. He did not swim in the final but qualified for his medal because of his participation in the preliminaries.
- Bentz swam for the prestigious Dynamo Swim Club of Atlanta. He was named to the 2014-15 U.S. National Team in the 400 individual medley.