Jason Lezak and Co. Teach France To Let Performance Do the Talking

ThomasSenior Writer IAugust 10, 2008

A few days ago, I wrote an article about Alain Bernard and his bold (that's putting it lightly) statement to the USA.  Now, he and the rest of the French Swim Team are eating his words. 

The 4x100 freestyle relay was one of the most hyped events at the Olympics. Well, all that hype leacked over here to the B/R and to me. I've never been so interested in swimming and that comment Bernard just made me fired up. But, enough about how I felt about it. Time to get down to the point. 

France was actually on their way of winning this relay. They were so close, but luck and stamina was on America's side. Not only did the USA beat France at what the French were calling their event, but the USA smashed the "old" world record (3:12.23 seconds) and set a new one (3:08.24 seconds). 

from REUTERS/Jason Reed (CHINA)

The look on the French faces says it all. They were in total shock. They're a lot quieter now...well, sort of. At the end of the relay, France had to get one last comment in.  Amuary Leveaux (farthest right) said, "A finger tip did the victory, it is nothing." That single finger tip, Leveaux, let the USA not only win the event, but also set a new record. 

BEIJING - AUGUST 11: Jason Lezak of the United States poses with the gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The hero of this relay, suprisingly, wasn't Michael Phelps. Instead, it was the 32-year-old Jason Lezak, who is the oldest member of the USA Swim Team. At 25 meters away from the finish, Lezak slowly but surely caught up to Bernard and beat him out to touch the wall.

Talking after the relay, Jason said,  “I never lost hope. I don’t know how I was able to take it back that fast, because I’ve never been able to come anywhere near that for the last 50.”

After the relay, Phelps, who happened to be the team's biggest cheerleader, said, "Jason finished that race better than we could have asked for. I was fired up, and going into that last 50, I was like 'Aw, this is going to be a close race.' Jason's last 10 or 15 meters were incredible...You could tell I was pretty excited. I lost my voice and I was definitely emotional out there."

The French came in the relay as a favorite to win, but instead finished in second place, eight one-hundreths of a second behind the USA. Alain Bernard of France also went into the relay as the record holder for the 100 meters, but his 47.50 record was broken by Australian Eamon Sullivan, who swam 47.24.

Claude Fauquet, France's team director said this about Bernard: “Alain is wounded. When you are the last swimmer in a relay and you have the opportunity to bring a title of this importance to your country, you don’t get out of this unhurt. But, I don’t think that Alain lost the race. It’s Lezak who won it.”

Thus ends the hyped 4x100 freestyle relay. It was truly a race for the ages. No doubt, this won't escape the minds of the Americans and the French soon.