Agnel untouchable in 200 free
Gold medal for teenagers Franklin and Meilutyte
Yannick Agnel won the men’s 200m freestyle in scintillating style last night, but teenager Missy Franklin helped the United States stay in front of France in the Olympic swimming medals race.
Agnel, whose storming anchor leg gave France the 4x100m upset win over the United States on Sunday, followed up with a masterful performance in a 200m free final loaded with talent.
Agnel won France’s third swimming gold of the Games in 1min 43.14sec as Asian rivals Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea and Sun Yang of China dead-heated for silver behind him in 1:44.93 – 1.79sec adrift.
Reigning world champion Ryan Lochte, a dominant winner in the men’s 400m medley, was relegated to fourth place and world record-holder Paul Biedermann of Germany was fifth.
“I really didn’t expect that time,” said Agnel, who posted the fastest time since high-tech bodysuits were banned in 2010.
“I had a race plan in my head, but this is above my hopes and expectations. I had to start quickly over the first 100 metres and then get ahead of the pack.”
He did that in emphatic style, then made extra sure with a fearsome finishing lap.
“I worked on keeping my speed and putting all my guts into the last 50,” Agnel said. “It worked.”
It was Agnel’s second straight victory over US star Lochte, who was anchoring the US 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday when Agnel surged past him in the final 50m to give France the gold medal.
While Lochte couldn’t add to his 400m medley gold and relay silver, 17-year-old US sensation Franklin lived up to her billing in her first individual Olympic final as she stormed past Australia’s Emily Seebohm on the second lap to win the women’s 100m backstroke gold.
Franklin barely had time to catch her breath after nabbing the eighth and last spot in the 200m freestyle final before she returned for the 100m back.
But she had plenty in the tank as she took down Seebohm in a time of 58.33sec.
Seebohm, who flirted with the world record in the heats, settled for silver in 58.68 and Japan’s Aya Terakawa earned bronze in 58.83.
“This is indescribable, I can’t believe that just happened,” gasped Franklin, who wasn’t the only teen queen of the night.
Ruta Meilutyte, 15, gave Lithuania its first Olympic swimming gold with a gutsy victory in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
Meilutyte led all the way, holding off former world record-holder Rebecca Soni to win in 1: 05.47sec.
World champion Soni was second in 1:05.55 and Japan’s Satomi Suzuki took bronze in 1:06.46.
Matt Grevers took the American gold tally from three days of racing to four as he led a US one-two ahead of Nick Thoman in the men’s 100m backstroke.
Grevers, a silver medallist in Beijing who failed to qualify for the 2011 world championships, showed he was back with a vengeance with an Olympic record of 52.16sec.
He ran down pace-setter Camille Lacourt on the final lap, the French world champion fading to fourth behind Thoman (52.92) and Japan’s Ryosuke Irie (52.97).