Swimming: Yannick Agnel given spot to defend Olympic crown despite qualifying controversy

France's Yannick Agnel at the French swimming championship in Montpellier, on March 30, 2016.
France's Yannick Agnel at the French swimming championship in Montpellier, on March 30, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French swimmer Yannick Agnel will have the final say over whether or not he will defend his 200m freestyle title at the Olympics despite failing to qualify, the country's swimming federation said on Wednesday.

"There is a place reserved for him. It will be attributed once we have discussed his programme with him," said the team's technical director, Jacques Favre.

Agnel, who will definitely swim in Rio de Janeiro as part of the 4x200m relay team, missed out on automatic qualification for the individual event when he finished third in qualifying at the French national championships.

Jeremy Stravius won the race while Jordan Pothain was second. But in a controversial finish, it appeared Agnel had finished second but failed to make clean contact with the timing pad at the end of the race.

Agnel's path to defending his 200m title has been cleared by Pothain's decision to concentrate on the 400m freestyle instead.

"I am happy. I am going to give everything to be in form and be competitive," said Agnel. "But I would not hesitate to withdraw if I am not at the optimum level and to make the most of the 4x200m in which we have real chances."