Ryan Lochte suffered more than a bruised ego this week on the premiere of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Following the Olympic swimmer’s ballroom debut, two men wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts rushed the stage in an attempt to protest his performance. The men were quickly tacked by police and removed from the premises as the show cut to an emergency commercial break. While on the break, more protesters were removed from the audience.
Lochte’s dance partner, Cheryl Burke, described the scary incident in her blog for PEOPLE.
“My mind started racing. My initial concern was if the guy was armed or not. ‘DWTS’ is a family show and I knew there were kids in the audience and I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” she wrote.
Burke wrote that Lochte was very nervous before taking the stage for the first time, and the protesters completely crushed him.
“I looked up to Ryan and I could tell he was on the verge of tears. I could feel his heart sinking into his stomach – and to be honest, mine was too. They cut to commercial break and I just had him lock eyes with me and I was telling him, ‘You’re amazing. Don’t forget why you’re here,'” she wrote.
“The first thing he did was turn to me and say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I just told him, ‘Never tell me you’re sorry again. These tears are just because I don’t want you to be hurt or for you to lose your spirit.'”
She wrote that during the first rehearsal after the premiere, it was clear others were also “shaken up.”
“I know it will probably take us a few weeks to put this incident behind us, but I know Ryan wants to move forward and he’s not going to let this bring him down,” Burke wrote.
She revealed that the pair will perform a quickstep next week, but Lochte will have to power through a minor injury.
“We have a quickstep this week and Ryan did injure his ankle a little when the protester got tackled, so we’ll have to see how our first rehearsal goes. But at the end of the day, we are all just so grateful that no one was more seriously injured,” she wrote.
“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.