Revenge for Beijing: USA Stumbles Late in 4x100 Free Relay as France Turns Table
Now the US Olympic men's swimming team knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the coin.
Four years after Jason Lezak's thrilling final leg in the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay helped the Americans blow by France, the European power handed Team USA some painful retribution in London on Sunday.
This time, it was Yannick Agnel who inched past Ryan Lochte at the final wall to win the gold medal for his country. Agnel was the only swimmer in the field to swim under 47 seconds, as his split was a blistering 46.74 seconds.
The American men haven’t won a relay gold medal yet, and they blew this one. The U.S. was supposed to win comfortably, with the two best swimmers in the world—possibly the two best swimmers ever—in the lineup.
After the question marks surrounding his performance in the 400 IM, Michael Phelps put in a great performance, giving the U.S. a comfortable lead that Cullen Jones maintained. This time, it was Lochte whose performance was a disappointment, as he couldn’t hold that lead.
So the tables have been turned not just on the entire U.S. team, but also on the Phelps-Lochte matchup. After he looked so dominant last night, Lochte won’t find any confidence from his performance in the relay on Sunday, although it was his third swim of the day and was likely out of gas.
Phelps and Jones, meanwhile, were joking and laughing as they left the medal podium area. They will be more relaxed in the knowledge that their performances were good enough that their other teammates—Lochte in particular—should have been able to deliver the gold.
Overall, the Americans should see Sunday’s result as a failure. However, that’s not to take anything away from the French, who really deserved the win for their late surge.
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