Agnel Defeats Lochte for Gold
French swimmer Yonnick Agnel has caught the gaze of the Olympic spotlight after clenching two gold medals, one after finishing a full body length in front of American favorite Ryan Lochte during the men’s 200m freestyle and 4x100m relay events.
The Frenchman has been hailed as “remarkable” by French president Francois Hollande, who powered through the droves of press to congratulate the swimmer on his medal. The first-time Olympic participant has even been called “incredible” by the US’s most proficient swimmer, Michael Phelps.
Agnel has been an active athlete since childhood, participating in tennis, judo, and football until he decided to focus on swimming at the age of 8 in 2000. Agnel’s self-described introverted nature makes him especially drawn to the solitary nature of the sport.
He describes the experience as something surreal, “In competition, I hear nothing once we start. Then I perceive only the sound of water. Sometimes I go in a trance, and when I touch, it’s like I woke up,”. Digesting Baudelaire between his laps, his coach wishes he would give up his literary interests and concentrate more on swimming.
The swimmer is also pleased to have found a balance between his education and swimming while he studies oceanography.
President Hollande went on to laude his praise upon Agnel after the events, stating “It’s a big reward for French swimming, a proud moment for him and encouraging for the whole team. He left no doubt.”