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The Gaul Of It; FRA, USA, RUS (AUS 4th)

Jul 29, 2012

Olympic Games, London, Day 1 finals

Men's 4x100m freestyle

Never mind the Weapons of Mass destruction, the Gunners of Gaul got it, the Stars and Stripes second, Russia third and no medal for The Dolphins who had been written up as sure-fire winners. On paper it looked that way. So much for paper. The wave rules.

The ghosts of 2008 were exorcised as Yannick Agnel brought France home in 3:09.93, Ryan Lochte overhauled in the last 15m, the US taking silver in 3:10.38, and Russia adding insult to injury for Australia with the bronze in 3:11.41 to 3:11.63.

Australia was wiped out by the wave of Nathan Adrian at the first turn. If it was a deliberate move by coaches Gregg Troy and Bob Bowman it worked a treat. Magnussen was visibly knocked back by the swell created by Adrian's earlier turn. The Missile fizzled out at that point, a 48 flat leaving him behind Adrian, Australia's best card played and lost.

Four years after being tormented by Jason Lezak and teammates in Beijing the wrong side of a 0.08sec gap, France hit back with an upset win of their own, Agnel delivering the killer blow that took to three the number of times the US has been beaten for the crown since 1964. If Agnel can finish like that in his solo 100m and 200m races, there's more success to come from the man from Nice.

"What happened four years ago, that was really tough. This is an extraordinary revenge," said Fabien Gilot after watching Agnel storm home past Lochte for Gaul's gold.

The splits tell the tale of where things went right and wrong for the protagonists:

  • 48.13; 47.67; 47.39; 46.74 FRA Amaury Leveaux, Fabien Gilot, Clement Lefert, Yannick Agnel
  • 47.89; 47.15; 47.60; 47.74 USA Nathan Adrian, Michael Phelps, Cullen Jones, Ryan Lochte 
  • 48.57; 47.39; 47.85; 47.60 RUS Andrey Grechin, Nikita Lobintsev, Vladimir Morozov, Danila Izotov
  • 48.03; 47.83; 47.68; 48.09 AUS James Magnussen, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts 

With that homecoming split, Agnel looks capable of podium places in the 100m and the 200m, while James Roberts, world No2 coming into the Games, looks set to struggle.

After a silver medal in the 4x100, Phelps said he had put yesterday's disappointment in the 400IM behind him and was feeling much better. "The thing about the relay is that it's the whole race, (so it can't be judged on individual laps) - but at least I'm in a medal today."

Lead-off Nathan Adrian said: "I like the result. We don't go into any relay hoping for a silver or a bronze, we go into a relay hoping to win, but we didn't. At the same time we gotta take it for what it is."

And what is was was only the third time in history that the US has been defeated: Australia downed the US in 2000 and South Africa got the better of the Americans in 2004. 

Reports by Craig Lord and Karin Helmstaedt