Meynard Mauls Agnel's Pride On 48.53
Apr 12, 2013 - Craig Lord
There'll be a catch in it, a twist in the tale and we can expect Yannick Agnel to be a little more crisp in the Catalan capital this summer but none of that mattered today for William Meynard, of Marseilles: French 100m freestyle champion in 48.53 on the the fourth day at nationals in Rennes.
That means much in a place where the sprinters are built to win the Olympic 4x100m freestyle crown.
Meynard didn't only beat Agnel, 4th at London 2012, but got past him, not easy - even when the Olympic 200m champion from Nice is feeling the pinch.
Out in 23.44 to Agnel's 23.24, Meynard stormed home in 25.09, Agnel's 25.38 return granting him silver in 48.62. Fabien Gilot, out in 23.13, will miss solo action at Barcelona world titles this summer but was heartened by bronze won in 48.74 at the end of a period late last year when surgery kept him out of the water. Team Marseille tweeted: "Objectif 47'5... Magic Fab is back in business..." alongside a picture of a smiling Gilot with compression tubes around his arms.
Meynard has a best of 48.00 from the 2011 world titles final in Shanghai in 2011. He now gets the chance to crack 48 in the 2013 final in Spain. Five of the rest in the hunt tonight cracked 50 but not 49, Amaury Leveaux, Mulhouse, on 49.18 and heading to another world titles eight years after his Montreal 2005 debut, Grégory Mallet, Marseilles, on 49.33, Mehdy Metella, Toulouse, on 49.39 and Romain Magula, Marseilles, on 49.64. Some club team that of Marseilles.
The heat of Olympic season has abated since Agnel led the sprint warriors of Gaul on a 48.02 at trials a year ago:
Retirements (Alain Bernard) and injury/illness (Gilot) have played their part in a long post-Games winter in Europe. Even so, any who have spent time in Barcelona in July and August before will expect temperature and passion to rise come the carnival in the Catalan capital, while solo efforts work under different rules to relays.
The French 4x100m quartet was magnificent in London, the book-ends sublime, Amaury Leveaux springing a 48.13 opener, Yannick Agnel granting gold to those who set it up, his coach and country ahead of the US, Russia and a troubled Australia down, under and out.
For 4th in the solo, Agnel clocked 47.84 but he gave gold to Gaul with a stunning 46.74 split. In textile suit, only the 46.70 of 2000 and 2004 100m Olympic champion Pieter Van den Hoogenband - in lifting the Dutch medley relay from 8th to 5th on the closing two laps at 2003 world championships in Barcelona - tops that in the ranks of all-time best 100 free relay splits.
In other action at Rennes today, Cloé Credeville booked a ticket to Barcelona with a 1:00.65 victory in the 100m backstroke. The Nantes swimmer was out in 29.90, 0.06sec up on Mathilde Cini, of Valence Triathlon, but there was no contest on the way to the end wall: Alexianne Castel talence, took silver in 1:02.76, Cini bronze in 1:03.08.
The pile of tickets for Barcelona world titles grew when Jordan Coelho, Etampes, wiped 0.74sec off his lifetime best to win the 200m butterfly crown in 1:56.71 for a place in the world top 5 so far this season. Through in 54.99 at the half-way, the 20-year-old was a class apart, the silver going to Paul Lemaire, Toulouse, in 2:00.33, bronze to Marvin Maisonneuve, Montauban, in 2:01.12.
William Debourges, Antibes, held off a second-half challenge from Patrick Perisser, Toulouse, for a 2:13.85 to 2:13.99 victory in the 200m breaststroke. The bronze belonged to Thomas Dahlia, the winner's teammate, in 2:14.40. That locked out the man who had kept the leaders company until the last lap, 100m champion Giacomo Perez Dortona, Marseilles, on 2:14.77.
Nice-based Hungarian David Verraszto swam a lonely race to a 4:13.40 victory in the 400 metres medley (58.10; 2:02.48; 3:14.16) no others inside 4:20. The women's 200 metres medley went to his sister Evelyn, the other sibling of former world champion Zoltan, on 2:11.71, the French fight won by Sophie De Ronchi, Massy, in 2:14.60 and on the plane to Spain, Adeline Martin, Antibes, third in 2:16.55. In the semis, Hungarian Eszter Dara produced the sole sub-minute 100 'fly, on 59.68.
With their national teammate Katinka Hosszu muscling in on the action on 54s over in Mesa, USA, the Hungarian 4x100m free quartet of Verraszto (55.70), Sara Joo (56.29), Agnes Mutina (56.29) and Eszter Dara, (55.28) 3:43.56 for victory over French club teams as the session ended.