Swimmers in action
It's another "Race of the Century" in the Olympic pool, and this time Michael Phelps isn't even in it.
The 200-meter freestyle final on Monday night features a loaded field, including Sun Yang of China, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, American Ryan Lochte, Yannick Agnel of France and world recordholder Paul Biedermann of Germany, reports The Associated Press.
Maybe Phelps knew what he was doing when he dropped the event after qualifying in it at the U.S. trials last month.
And Lochte figures to be the longest shot for gold in the race that gives him another shot at Agnel, who chased him down on the final lap to help France win the 4x100 freestyle relay on Sunday.
It could still be a big night for the Americans, with teenager Missy Franklin a medal threat in the 100 backstroke, Matt Grevers favored in the men's 100 back, and Rebecca Soni looking to upgrade the silver she won in 2008 to gold this time in the 100 breaststroke.
At the 2004 Athens Games, the 200 free was dubbed the "Race of the Century" due to the presence of Australian Ian Thorpe, Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands and Phelps. They finished in that order.
Phelps won the race over Park four years ago in Beijing, one of his record eight golds. Now it's up to Lochte to try and keep the title in the U.S.
He failed to do it in a thrilling 4x100 free relay that was the opposite result from Beijing. Four years ago, Jason Lezak ran down Alain Bernard to preserve Phelps' bid to win a record eight gold medals in a single Olympics.
This time, the Americans built a commanding lead over the first three legs. Lochte dove in on the anchor leg with a half-body length lead over the field and was in position to add another gold to his dominating win in the 400 individual medley on Saturday.
But Agnel pulled even with Lochte with 25 meters to go, and the American couldn't hold off the Frenchman.
"I gave everything in the last 50 until he cracked," Agnel said. "In the last 10 meters, I saw that he was really cracking."
Agnel touched in 3 minutes, 9.93 seconds, having gone exactly 1 second faster than Lochte over the last two laps. Lochte and the Americans settled for silver in 3:10.38, while favored Australia didn't even get a medal. Russia took the bronze in 3:11.41, beating the Aussies by 0.22.