Agnel authorized to defend 200-meter freestyle Olympic title

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PARIS (AP) French swimmer Yannick Agnel has been allowed to defend his 200-meter freestyle Olympic title despite failing to qualify at the national trials.

Agnel posted the third-best time at the French championships behind Jeremy Stravius and Jordan Pothain last week, although TV images appeared to show that he touched the wall in second.

None of the three managed to clock the minimum time of 1 minute, 46.06 seconds set by the French federation for automatic Olympic selection.

With the first two swimmers expected to make the cut through their placings, Agnel's coach launched a protest which was dismissed by the race jury. But Jacques Favre, the federation's technical director, said on Wednesday that Agnel can defend his title at the games in Rio de Janeiro if he wants to because Pothain has decided to focus on the 400.

Agnel welcomed the federation's decision, but said he might not even compete in the event in Rio if he is not in top form.

''They acknowledged that I finished second and not third, I want to thank them for that,'' Agnel told reporters in a phone interview.

''I will give my best to be competitive at the Olympics. But if I don't feel like my preparation has been optimal, I won't hesitate to withdraw and focus on the relay.''