Agnel reaps re­wards of men­tor

French­man over­comes stel­lar field to clinch 200m freestyle fi­nal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Barcelona

Olympic cham­pion Yan­nick Agnel has said work­ing with Michael Phelps’ ex- coach Bob Bow­man helped the French­man win 200m freestyle gold at the world cham­pi­onships.

France’s Agnel de­mol­ished a pow­er­ful field in Tues­day’s fi­nal, clock­ing 1 min, 44.20 sec, more than a sec­ond ahead of Conor Dwyer of the US, who fin­ished sec­ond at 1.12 sec back, with Rus­sia’s Danila Izo­tov 1.39 adrift in third.

Hav­ing started work­ing with Bow­man two months ago, this was Agnel’s sec­ond gold at the eight-day long Barcelona cham­pi­onships af­ter France won Sun­day’s 4x100m freestyle fi­nal.

Just as he did in the Lon­don 2012 fi­nal, Agnel led from the first turn and was well clear of the field by the fi­nal length, leav­ing Dwyer, his train­ing part­ner since mov­ing to the US, in his wake.

“This is as beau­ti­ful as Lon­don,” said the 21- year- old Agnel. “I wasn’t ex­pect­ing this. I said to my­self I will swim as I did in Lon­don and see what hap­pens.”

The tow­er­ing French­man de­scribed it as “magic” to win the fi­nal by more than a sec­ond and claimed he had an­swered any crit­ics of his move from France to Bal­ti­more, to work with Bow­man.

“I said even if I came back with sil­ver I would still have an­swered them. To get gold pro­vides them with an even bet­ter re­sponse. Per­fect in fact,” he said.

Agnel said he is learn­ing all the time from the man who mas­ter­minded Phelps’ record haul of eight gold medals at Bei­jing 2008 in a ca­reer which reaped 18 Olympic ti­tles.

“Bob’s a great tech­ni­cian and a great man, the part­ner­ship is giv­ing some­thing spe­cial,” said Agnel.

“We have a very good team, good train­ing ses­sions, a good coach, good con­di­tions and be­side that we are re­ally re­laxed.

“I was with Conor (Dwyer) a month ago and we said we were go­ing to be first and sec­ond in Barcelona, and it fi­nally hap­pened.”

Hav­ing moved to Bal­ti­more in June, Agnel said he is al­ready en­joy­ing the dif­fer­ence of liv­ing in the United States hav­ing parted com­pany with French coach Fabrice Pel­lerin in May.

“It’s in the spirit, that way of think­ing,” he said when asked of the main dif­fer­ences State­side.

“In France, we are maybe too se­ri­ous, we were at least for many years and we started to be suc­cess­ful when some­one showed us the way and said you can win be­ing cool.”

There was dis­ap­point­ment for Ryan Lochte, the 2011 world cham­pion in Shang­hai, who fin­ished fourth, 1.44 be­hind Agnel.

“It wasn’t my night but I have to put it be­hind me be­cause I still have many races to swim,” said the Amer­i­can star, who has 12 gold medals from pre­vi­ous world cham­pi­onships.

Izo­tov said he had felt some pres­sure to per­form af­ter swim­ming the an­chor leg for Rus­sia in Sun­day’s 4x100m freestyle fi­nal and only an­chor­ing the team home to bronze.

“It was a very hard race, I felt some pres­sure af­ter the re­lay,” said the 21-year-old.

“My com­peti­tors were very strong and it’s a great plea­sure to swim against them.

“I think I could do it bet­ter, but I am glad to have an­other bronze.”

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