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100m: Gilot, Meynard In; Bernard Out

Mar 25, 2011  - Craig Lord

French nationals, Strasbourg: day 3 finals

Olympic champion Alain Bernard will not get to warm-up for the defence of his crown this summer at world titles, after his 48.71sec effort in the 100m freestyle at French trials for Shanghai left him nursing a fourth-place finish, his consolation the relay spot after a final won by Fabien Gilot in 48.34.

The second berth in Shanghai also went to a man of Marseilles  under the guidance of coach Romain Barnier, William Meynard, on 48.57 after turning in sixth before producing the only sub 25-sec home-coming split of the final. The bronze went to 200m/400m man Yannick Agnel, in 48.59. Agnel's time augurs well for the 200m, to say the least, comparing as it does to the 48.56 effort that granted Ian Thorpe bronze in the Olympic 100m final in 2004. 

Gilot left nothing to chance, rocketing off his blocks to a 22.73sec half-way split, the only sub 23sec in the race. Bernard turned in 23.18 with Agnel on 23.27. Back in sixth was Meynard, on 23.74, with a 24.83 split granting him silver and a berth in the solo race in Shanghai this summer. 

At the back half of the race came Jeremy Stravius, on 48.82 - the fifth best in the world this year behind all those in the race ahead of him - then Amaury Leveaux, on 49.49, before Fred Bousquet on 49.59 and Romain Magula on 49.72, that ensuring a sub-50sec final. For Gilot, victory also kept the crown on his head, after his 2010 victory in 48.52. Gregory Mallet and Boris Steimetz topped the B final on a day when the French sprint ranks have been rattled once more. 

All to the good for the 4x100m relay if domestic rivalry can been harnessed to positive end: at the speed mustered by the sprint muskateers this March, the French quartet looks to be in better shape for the battle ahead than it was for the battle behind it from last year.

Bernard's textile best among Frenchmen, of 48.12, remains in place but the Olympic champion is heading to world titles knowing that he will race the solo 50m and the 100m in the relay but that he has a tough task ahead of him just to get to the blocks in London next year. The good news for Gaul: any Frenchman in the top 2 at home is up for a medal come the big one. 

The splits of the race tell of the tightness of the fight:

  • Gilot        22.73 25.61 48.34
  • Meynard  23.74 24.83 48.57
  • Agnel       23.27 25.32 48.59
  • Bernard    23.18 25.53 48.71
  • Stravius    23.52 25.30 48.82
  • Leveaux   23.54 25.95 49.49
  • Bousquet  24.02 25.57 49.59
  • Magula     23.90 25.82 49.72

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 48.52; 49.04; 49.18
  • 2011 podium: 48.34; 48.57; 48.59
  • FRA record all suits: 46.94 Alain Bernard (FRA) 2009
  • FRA textile best: 48.12 Alain Bernard (FRA) 2007

Best FRA podium result at world titles: Silver on three occasions. 

  • In 1973, Michel Rousseau clocked 52.08 between the future Olympic champion Jim Montgomery (USA), on 51.7 and former Olympic champion (1968) Mike Wenden (AUS(, on 52.22.
  • In 1986, when Matt Biondi (USA) sizzled on 48.94, Stephan Caron claimed silver in 49.73 ahead of Tom Jager (USA), on 49.79
  • In 2009, when Cesar Cielo (BRA) took the crown (the clock, 46.91, reflecting the suits allowed at the time), Olympic champion Alain Bernard claimed silver ahead of bronze or teammate Fred Bousquet.

And in other action this evening:

Benjamin Stasiulis moved up from silver a year ago to take the national title in 1:57.27, 0.1sec inside his best and the fastest time ever by a Frenchman in a textile suit. 

European champion Sébastien Rouault, racing at home in Mulhouse, extended his lead at the helm of the early world rankings with a 7:54.95 victory over 800m freestyle. Some six seconds shy of his own French record, established when lifting the European crown last year, Rouault, coached by Lionel Horter, booked his ticket to world titles in Shanghai this July with an effort that placed him well ahead of the following pack. 

Women's 1,500m freestyle

World 800m champion Lotte Friis (DEN) laid down a 16:06.74 marker to win the 30-lap race ahead of Chile's Kristel Kobrich, on 16:16.73, with Aurélie Muller, of Sarreguemines the first French contender home for bronze in 16:27.77. That locked out France-based Camelia Potec (ROU), of Racing Paris, on 16:34.67. At 8:33.19 by the 800m mark, Friis had established almost all the lead she would win by, Kobrich on 8:43.44.

Coached by Paul Wildeboer, Friis, second in the 1,500m behind Alessia Filippi (ITA) at Rome 2009 and European 800m champion last year, sits at No 2 in the world so far this early season, the world rankings headed by Kerri-Anne Payne (GBR), 2009 marathon world champion, in 16:06.67.

How they measure up:

  • 2007 podium (event not held 2008-10): 16:27.97; 16:35.64; 16:41.72 
  • 2011 podium: 16:06.74; 16:16.73; 16:27.77
  • FRA record: 16:03.01 Laure Manaudou 2006

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals

Men's 800m freestyle

European champion Sébastien Rouault cracked out splits of 1:58.61, 3:59.15 and 5:57.9 on his way to a dominant 7:54.95 victory in which his last 100m, on 57.35, was faster than his first, 57.95.

The silver went to a second Sébastien, Fraysse, of Versailles, in 8:02.35, with teenager Damien Joly, of Antibes, third in 8:03.01. That locked out Danish visitor Mads Glaesner, on 8:03.69.

The last time the 800m was held at French nationals was 2007, when Rouault took the tile in 7:52.26 ahead of Anthony Pannier, on 7:58.02. Pannier finished 7th this year in 8:08.25.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium (event not held 2008-10): 7:52.26; 7:58.02; 8:03.27
  • 2011 podium: 7:54.95; 8:02.35; 8:03.69
  • FRA record: 7:48.28 Sébastien Rouault 2010

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals

Women's 100m backstroke

Alexianne Castel, of Toulouse, defended her crown in 1:01.36 ahead of Cloé Credeville, on 1:02.07, and Turkish visitor Hazal Sarikaya, on 1:02.58, locking out Alexandra Putra, on 1:02.74. Credeville was 0.03sec ahead of Castel at the turn, on 30.43, before the champion pulled away out of the turn.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 1:00.66; 1:02.05; 1:02.22
  • 2011 podium: 1:01.36; 1:02.07; 1:02.58 TUR; 1:02.74
  • FRA record: 59.50 Laure Manaudou 2008 (textile suit)

Best FRA podium result at world titles: Manaudou won silver at Melbourne 2007 in 59.87, the gold won in a world record of 59.44 by Natalie Coughlin (USA).

Men's 200m backstroke

Benjamin Stasiulis moved up from silver a year ago to take the national title in 1:57.27, 0.1sec inside his best and the fastest time ever by a Frenchman in a textile suit. The silver went to Camille Lacourt, on 1:59.74, the bronze to Joris Hustache, in 2:00.26. 

Stasiulis, coached by Philippe Lucas at Paris racing, won the race over the first 100m, out in 57.14 and back in 1:00.13, compared to Lacourt's splits of 59.04 and 1:00.70. The champion from 2010, Eric Ress, did not defend his crown.

The new champion is now at No2 on the early 2010 world ranks, in between James Goddard (GBR), on 1:57.08, and Tyler Clary (USA), on 1:57.31.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 1:58.54; 1:59.73; 2:00.57
  • 2011 podium: 1:57.27; 1:59.74; 2:00.26 
  • FRA record all suits: 1:56.64 Pierre Roger 2009
  • FRA textile best: 1:57.37 Benjamin Stasiulis 2010

Best FRA podium result at world titles: no medals

Women's 50m freestyle

Marseilles-based Dutch sprinter Inge Dekker, coached by Romain Barnier, clocked 24.87 for a dominant victory in the dash ahead of Angéla Tavernier, of Nanterre, on 25.91, and Béryl Gastaldello, a 15-year-old from Nice, on 25.99.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 25.17 BLR; 25.61; 25.67; 25.77
  • 2011 podium: 24.87 NED; 25.91; 25.99
  • FRA record all suits: 24.58 Malia Metella 1009
  • FRA textile best: 24.89 Malia Metella 2004

Best FRA podium result at world titles: shared silver - Catherine Plewinski tied with Leigh Ann Fetter (USA) on 25.50 when the race was won by Zhuang Yong (CHN) in 24.57.

Women's 100m butterfly

Still breathless from victory in the 50m free and watching Marseilles teammates mash their rivals in the 100m free, Inge Dekker (NED) clocked a 58.70 to win the two-lap 'fly ahead of Aurore Mongel, at home in Strasbourg, on 59.33, and Diane Bui Duyet, on 59.43. That locked out Melanie Henrique, on 59.87 and the last woman home inside the minute.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 59.17 USA; 59.20; 59.22; 1:00.37
  • 2011 podium: 58.70 NED; 59.33; 59.43; 59.87
  • FRA record all suits: 56.89 Aurore Mongel 2009
  • FRA textile best: 58.33 Alena Popchanka (FRA) 2006

Best FRA podium result at world titles: bronze - in 1991 in Perth, Catherine Plewinski finished a touch behind China's Hong Qian and Wang Xiaohong.

Men's 200m butterfly

Back from a steroid doping ban last year, Greek Ioannis Drymonakos clocked 1:58.39 to edge out Jordan Coelho, on 1:58.54, the bronze going to Thomas Vilaceca in 1:59.69 ahead of Christophe Lebon, on 1:59.70.

How they measure up:

  • 2010 podium: 1:58.88; 1:59.20 POR; 1:59.51; 1:59.93
  • 2011 podium: 1:58.39 GRE; 1:58.54; 1:59.69; 1:59.70
  • FRA record: 1:54.62 Franck Esposito 2002

Best FRA podium result at world titles: at Perth in 1998, Franck Esposito clocked 1:56.77 to take second 0.16sec behind Denis Silantiev (UKR).