LONDON — Four years ago, Michael Phelps collected the second of his record haul of eight gold medals with one of the most tense and memorable races in Olympic history.
His Phelps's teammate on the 4x100 relay, anchor Jason Lezak, caught France's Alain Bernard in the final 50 meters and beat him to the wall by a fingertip. It was instant Olympic lore, enhanced by what was at stake.
While the stakes were not quite so high Sunday night at London's Aquatic Center, France exacted its revenge in similar fashion. And while the manner in which their swimmers might have imagined payback playing out probably involved catching Phelps or the veteran Lezak on the last leg, the reality was even more shocking:
They caught Ryan Lochte.
Specifically, it was Yannick Agnel who caught Lochte, the gold medalist in the 400 individual medley Sunday night and one of the marquee stars of the sport. He did so on the final leg, making up a 0.55-second deficit after three legs to overtake Lochte over the last 50 meters to claim gold -- and yes, revenge -- in an overall time of 3 minutes 9.93 seconds.
"I'm kinda bummed," said Lochte in the mixed zone afterward. "When we go up on the blocks, we want to win."
The US, which led after each of the first three legs, swum by Nathan Adrian, Phelps, and Cullen Jones, took silver (3:10.38). Russia won the bronze (3:11.41).
The medal is the 17th of Phelps's career, and his first silver, to go with 14 golds and two bronzes.