France gain revenge over US

Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 01:00

Olympic swimming: France avenged their defeat to the United States in Beijing four years ago when they snatched the gold medal in the men's 4x100 metres freestyle final at the London Olympics this evening.

Yannick Agnel, swimming the anchor leg for the French, reeled in Ryan Lochte on the last lap to win gold for France in three minutes, 09.93 seconds.

The Americans, who gambled and lost when they called up Lochte ahead of their sprint specialists, held on to take the silver medal after an exhilarating finish. Russia got the bronze medal while Australia, who dubbed themselves a "weapon of mass destruction" after winning last year's world championship title, could only manage fourth.

Michael Phelps swam the second leg for the Americans and picked up the first silver medal of his Olympic career to lift his overall medal tally to 17, just one shy of the all-time record.

Four years ago, Phelps won an unprecedented eight golds in Beijing, including the men's relay when the US famously came from behind to beat France on the last lap.

The good news for the US came earlier when Dana Vollmerended a lifetime of frustration and battles with her health to win the 100 metres butterfly gold medal in world record time. The American powered her way through two laps of the Aquatic Centre to win in 55.98 seconds, slicing 0.08 off the previous mark set by Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

China's Lu Ying finished second while Australia's Alicia Coutts, a gold medallist in the 4x100 freestyle relay on Saturday, was third and Sjostrom fourth but all the plaudits went to Vollmer.

While Vollmer won a relay gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the 24-year-old had never competed in an individual event at the Games before London. In 2000, she was a bright-eyed 12-year-old at the US trials and did not qualify for the Games at all.

In 2004 she was a surprise qualifier, but only in relay, and was earmarked as a future champion. In 2008, however, the combination of a mystery illness and

the weight of expectation got the better of her and she failed to make the American team.

In 2003, she underwent heart surgery to correct a condition which produced a faster than normal pulse and forced her to take a defibrillator to all her races and training sessions. But it was an allergy to eggs that held her back for many more years.

When it was finally diagnosed, after missing out on the Beijing Olympic team, she was put on a new gluten-free diet. Her results in the pool quickly started to improve and in 2011 she won her first individual world title at Shanghai.

She had come close to breaking the record before only to run out of puff in the final few metres but swam a more even race this time, reaching the halfway point in third place then surging away on the last lap.

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