France’s Agnel Misses 200 Free Semis; Won’t Defend His Olympic Title


Defending Olympic champion Yannick Agnel of France will not have the chance to repeat his title in the men’s 200 free in Rio. Agnel finished sixth in his heat with 1:47.35, which was the 19th-fastest time overall. He won gold in London in 2012 with 1:43.14.

Agnel had a troubled journey to Rio. Although everyone saw him finish in second place in the final of the men’s 200 free at the French Olympic Trials on March 30, 2016, Agnel touched the pad too low and his time didn’t register. The scoreboard announced he was third behind Jérémy Stravius and Jordan Pothain, and the French Federation would not overturn the results despite the protest lodged by Agnel’s coach, Lionel Horter. A week later, during the press conference announcing the athletes who would represent France in Rio, National Technical Director Jacques Favre said, “There will be a place reserved for Yannick Agnel in the 200 free after we discuss it with him.” And just like that, Agnel was back in.

Agnel becomes the second defending Olympic champion not to make it through to the next round in Rio. Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, who won the women’s 400 IM at the 2012 Olympic Games with a world record, failed to advance to the final of the event on Saturday. Ye, who is only 20, and Agnel, 24, are both young enough to make another run at their signature events in 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics, but both have intimated that they will retire after Rio.

South Korea’s Park Tae Hwan, silver medalist in the 200 free in London, also failed to make the semi-finals in the event in Rio. He finished 29th overall with 1:48.06, 3.13 seconds off his second-place time in London.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

FYI Agnel said the next 4×200 relay will be his last race ever ! He stops ! And he will really stop (not like Phelps)

6 years ago

I can’t help but wonder if Agnel is the victim of long term overtraining. It happens, and training with Bob Bowman for a year was no doubt extremely taxing. If he can afford to take a year off he should, and he may come back better. He is a great champion.

6 years ago

Ok, I admit I was wrong. Agnel’s in no shape for a spot in the final. I hope he puts up a decent leg in the French 4×200 though. One last time to shine before his goodbye.

Reply to  Molotov
6 years ago

1:45 would make up for it. Anchoring.

6 years ago

Why does everyone question every other one-and-done swim star about PEDs, but Agnel’s London year escapes mention?

Reply to  swimdoc
6 years ago

Because Agnel had already emerged as a 15 year old at the French Nationals, because before winning gold in London he had won gold at the French and European championships as a junior and at the elite level in the 200 and the 400. The suspicious ones are the overnight marvels, especially those that start being great at age 30.

Reply to  Crawler
6 years ago

Tell that to Lance Armstrong.

Reply to  swimdoc
6 years ago

It’s a fair question and look at his body in 2012. He was considerably more ripped, but I do think he has enough natural talent to be legit.

Reply to  Cheatinvlad
6 years ago

If Agnel was doped (he did like 2 or 3 races in each championship) what about Ledecky or Phelps ? Seriously, funniest post I read ! Phelps can stop months (years?) and come back easily … he is as easy as your hero (zero) Lance Armstrong…

Purple Rain 99
6 years ago

That’s horrible! What about that guy who won on a technicality and gave up his spot for Agnel? What a waste!

Reply to  Purple Rain 99
6 years ago

Not a waste, he was better in the 400 and got to the olympic final. He clearly came second at French Trials behind Agnel in the 200.

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 …

Read More »