Accusations Fly as French Men’s 4×200 Relay Fails to Make Final


There was a good deal of disappointment on deck after France, the 2012 silver medalists in the 4×200 free relay, failed to final in the same event on Tuesday in Rio. The quartet, made up of Jordan Pothain, Grégory Mallet, Lorys Bourelly, and Damien Joly, finished seventh in their heat and 14th overall with 7:13.71. France came into the meet seeded eighth with 7:09.18 following their fifth-place finish at 2016 European Championships in London in May.

Noticeably absent from the French relay was 2012 gold medalist in the 200 free, France’s Yannick Agnel. After failing to make the semi-finals in the 200 on Sunday with his 19th place finish in 1:47.35, Agnel came down with a sinus infection and pulled out of the relay. RMC had reported that Agnel spent Monday in bed with a fever and wouldn’t be available for the heats of 800 free relays. He was replaced by Joly, who is in Rio as an individual entrant in the men’s 1500 free.

  London 5/2016, 4×200 Splits   Rio 8/2016, 4×200 Splits Previous Flat-Start Best
Lorys Bourelly 1:49.38 Jordan Pothain 1:46.56 1:46.81 (2016)
Yannick Agnel 1:46.25 Grégory Mallet 1:47.60 1:46.69 (2013)
Jordan Pothain 1:47.15 Lorys Bourelly 1:48.62 1:47.83 (2016)
Jérémy Stravius 1:46.40 Damien Joly 1:50.93 1:51.21 (2013)
  7:09.18   7:13.71  

French news media have reported comments that a frustrated Pothain made in the mixed zone at the conclusion of the relay. According to, Pothain lashed out at Agnel, saying, “We were abandoned by Yannick. He let us down.” He then added, “I think they lied to us. Damien [Joly] only found out less than 12 hours ago that he would swim [on the relay].”

The discord in the French camp comes after a slow start to the 2016 Olympic Games, and may very well reflect the collective frustration felt by the men’s team. France has been a force to be reckoned with over the last several Olympic cycles. But so far they haven’t obtained the results they expected in Rio. Agnel missed qualifying for semi-finals in his key event, the 200 free. Jérémy Stravius scratched his 200 free semi-final to concentrate on the collective success of the 4×100 free relay, scheduled later on the same night. Camille Lacourt, a world champion in the 100 back, finished a disappointing fifth in the same event.

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Attila the Hunt
6 years ago

Poor Bobo. I hope he’s ok.

There was a commenter two days ago who wrote that Bobo is actually still commenting constantly.. but on a France swimming web forum

Reply to  Attila the Hunt
6 years ago

nobody likes the french

He Gets It Done Again
6 years ago

So Pothain is basically accusing Agnel of lying about having a fever? Or he thinks that Agnel should have swum anyway?

In any case, they should have used Stravius. I know he had the 100 free today as well, but if your only other option was a guy who’s PB is a 1:51, they should have had Stravius anchor. He could have taken it relatively easy and still been several seconds faster than Joly. And then Stravius doesn’t even make the 100 free semis!

Attila the Hunt
Reply to  He Gets It Done Again
6 years ago

Pothain must be cursing that he gave away his 200 free spot to Agnel who doesn’t even care.

6 years ago

Even if Agnel swam there is a pretty good chance they’d have missed the final – needed about a 1:46.2

Reply to  Iain
6 years ago

With a guy with a PB at 1’51 it was not technically possible to qualify, and they prob knew it !
Not easy to swim at their best when there’s such a big mess in both the team and staff…

6 years ago

Uh, 2 and 3 both swam slower than they should have and why couldn’t Stravius swim this relay, to save himself for finals? If Agnel didn’t have a fever at the time of the relay, definitely could have sucked it up and dealt with it. You think he would have learned something from his time in Baltimore.

Captain Awesome
Reply to  coacherik
6 years ago

I don’t think Agnels hearts really in it. And having the sniffles isn’t really an excuse to not swim a race.

Ed P
6 years ago

So what happened with Agnel? I can’t figure out his bad results for the past 3 years. As far as not being in the relay, maybe he actually was really sick.

Reply to  Ed P
6 years ago

He stopped caring

Reply to  Ed P
6 years ago

He went to NBAC. Bad fit and ended up being a big mistake.

Reply to  PowerPlay
6 years ago

He’s been back for nearly 3 years.

Reply to  PowerPlay
6 years ago

At the time he was training with one of the best middle-distance groups on the East Coast (if not the country) that included Phelps, Matt McLean, and Dwyer – all gold medalists by the way. He left because he didn’t get along well with Bowman (at least so I’ve heard).

Reply to  Ed P
6 years ago

he’s been sick for quite a long time in 2015 + he lost his best friend, olympic champion Camille Muffat + didn’t handle the pressure put on him + mistake of going with Bowman + lack of will. The list goes on and on.

Still he remains France’s greatest swimmer along with Laure Manaudou.

WR holder in textile in the 200 freestyle.

Sean S
Reply to  SLab
6 years ago

I think Florent is primed to move past him

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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