Agnel upstages stellar rivals in freestyle

MICHAEL GLEESON
Last updated 10:00 31/07/2012

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Yannick Agnel is French and clearly has a feel for de ja vu. A night after anchoring the scene-stealing French relay team to gold and in doing so leaving a bereft Australian team medal-less and in shock, Agnel last night again powered to gold and upstaged his stellar rivals including American Ryan Lochte and Sun Yang of China.

In the swim dubbed the race of the century by the world media Agnel not only won convincingly but in doing so a day after stealing gold from America in the relay he elevated himself in the pecking order of world swimming.

The 20-year-old Frenchman has two golds in two nights after he led from the start and surged to win by almost two seconds in the 200 freestyle. China's Yang Sun, the 1500 metre world champion who was seeking to become the first swimmer to win gold in the 200, 400 and 1500 metres, tied with Korean Taehwan Park for silver 1.79 seconds behind Agnel. American Ryan Lochte was left off the podium in fourth place.

Lochte who seemed to be shaping as this year's Michael Phelps after he defeated his record breaking countryman to take gold in the 400m individual medley on the opening night of competition has now twice in two nights been denied by Agnel. Firstly he was denied gold, then tonight he was denied a medal.

"I guess I took it out a little too fast. I knew if I wanted to be in the race I had to go out a little. Next time i won't make that mistake," Lochte said.

"This is one of the deepest fields I've ever seen. First to eighth is like a second difference (in time)," he added of the race that was so strong Michael Phelps pulled out of competition after qualifying in the event. 

On Saturday Lochte figuratively and literally overtook his teammate Michael Phelps mantle when he won the 400 individual medley and was then alongside Phelps on the podium to acccept a silver medal in the 4 x 100 relay team that lost to France.

Frenchman Yannick Agnel anchored that triumphant French team on Sunday night and was most significantly the man who was half a body length behind Lochte when he hit the water for that final leg of the relay and overhauled the American to take gold.

Australia's Thomas Fraser-Holmes was pleased with his seventh finish given the quality of the swimmers in the pool.

"I am happy with that, it was a PB and there were four Olympic champions and four world record holders in that event so to race those guys is something that is only going to benefit me in the next four years," Fraser-Holmes said.

"I might have over-cooked the first 50 but I don't mind that, I went out there and gave it my all and that was it tonight and I will be better for the experience for next years."

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-Sydney Morning Herald

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