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Olympics: Loaded field to swim ‘Race of Century’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    China's Sun Yang, left, and South Korea's Park Tae-hwan prepare for a men's 200-meter freestyle swimming semifinal at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Sunday, July 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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LONDON >> 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.

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 4×100 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.

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