Less well than Teddy Riner, four times individual medalist in four Olympiads, including twice in gold, but better than his famous sister Laure, three times medalist in the Athens Games in 2004 (1), Florent Manaudou achieved a rare feat in sport: three times on an individual Olympic podium in three different editions.
→ READ. The risky return of retired swimmer Florent Manaudou
Titled in London in 2012, in the wake of the golden generation Muffat-Agnel, he had managed to make a name for himself there, despite the presence of his sister, qualified in the 200 m backstroke but eliminated in series after attempting a return to the ponds. The hug between the little brother and the big sister after the title of the youngest remains one of the great sports images of recent years.
The youngest then grew up, gleaning money in Rio and obtaining the same metal in Tokyo behind the untouchable Caeleb Dressel. This silver medal ensures the France team, in serious difficulty in the Tokyo basins, not to return empty-handed from the Games. It especially salutes the exceptional course of a swimmer who tried and succeeded in coming back after a sports retirement.
Beaten in the French championship
If he did not leave the world of sport (he tried his luck in professional handball), he had stopped swimming after Rio before resuming training in 2019. The return to competition in one of the most popular disciplines more demanding (13 training sessions per week, only Sunday afternoon being generally free) was not easy. Particularly in this pre-Olympic season of 2021, which raised fears of the worst. Only fifth at the European Championships in Budapest in May, he was beaten in the final of the French Championship by Maxime Grousset.
In tears in front of the cameras of France Televisions after his race, he did not hide the hardness of the exercise. ” I stopped, I came back… It was a difficult year in terms of qualifying. Frankly, it was complicated. I wanted to have fun after Rio, I did handball, I was criticized a lot. Training is very important, but you also have to have fun in life. ” Her joy was further reinforced a few minutes later, when her partner, the Danish Pernille Blume, won bronze at the same distance.
“I would like to do the Games in my country”
Will he try to match the judoka Teddy Riner or the cyclist Daniel Morelon, four times individual medalists in four different Olympics, by trying the adventure of 2024? “I would like to play the Games in my country, in front of the public, but I don’t know, it will depend on the level I have”, he blurted out. In any case, he joined the restricted club of triple individual medalists, which includes half a dozen athletes, including a certain Tony Estanguet. The boss of the Paris organizing committee, gold medalist in canoeing in 2000, 2004, and 2012 may find the words to convince him to try the pass of four.
This silver medal is part of a positive Olympic weekend. After the grimace soup of the first week, this day of Sunday 1er August started well with, among other things, the great comeback of the French in the eventing competition (they are third before the last jumping event, Monday 2). And above all a happy Saturday 31st with plenty of medals, especially in windsurfing, fencing and team judo, where the Riner gang won gold. Sunday 1er early in the morning (in French time), France was eighth with 20 medals, four of which were gold.