Olympic 200m freestyle champion Yannick Agnel appears unlikely to be able to defend his title in Rio after finishing a controversial third at the French Championships, an Olympic selection event, on Wednesday.
Agnel was the second swimmer to touch the wall in the 200m free final in Montpellier, but official results listed him in third (race video here). Agnel touched the timing pad too low, and his time didn’t register, according to Swimswam.com.
Agnel and his coach argued that he was second, but officials denied an appeal, according to French media.
“I thought I’d seen everything in my career but that … it’s terrible,” Agnel said in a video interview, according to a Swimswam translation. “It’s something else I can tell my kids and my grandkids.”
Nobody from the race automatically qualified for Rio, as they all finished slower than the French Olympic qualifying criteria time of 1:46.06, which is 1.91 seconds faster than the Olympic A standard set by FINA.
A 1:46.06 would have placed sixth at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Championships.
Still, French officials can later enter Olympic swimmers who didn’t reach the federation’s qualifying time in his or her event, according to multiple reports.
It doesn’t look like Agnel would be chosen for the 200m free, given his third-place result Wednesday and that a nation can enter a maximum of two swimmers in an individual Olympic event.
Agnel still qualified to be a part of the French Olympic 4x200m free relay in Rio. And he can qualify for the 100m free and the 4x100m free relay later in the French Championships.
Agnel has struggled since breaking out at the 2012 Olympics, where he also anchored the French 4x100m relay to gold, and winning the 2013 World title in the 200m free.
He briefly was coached by Bob Bowman in 2014 and then withdrew before the 2015 World Championships for health reasons. He was ranked eighth in the world in the 200m free last year with a best time of 1:45.97, just faster than the French Olympic qualifying standard he needed to reach Wednesday.