4. Laure Manaudou
Laure Manaudou was born on 9 October 1986 in Villeurbanne, Rhône. She is a French Olympic, world and European champion swimmer. She has held the world record in freestyle events between 200 and 1500 meter. She is the daughter of a French father and a Dutch mother and the older sister of Florent Manaudou who is also an Olympic gold medalist swimmer.
She won the gold medal in the women’s 400 meter freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics. It was France’s first gold medal ever in women’s swimming and the first swimming gold medal won by a French athlete since Jean Boiteux’s victory in the 400 meter men’s freestyle event at Helsinki in 1952. Manaudou won the silver medal in the women’s 800 meter freestyle at the Athens Olympics. In that race, she had a quick start but was passed down the stretch by Ai Shibata of Japan. She also won the bronze medal in the women’s 100 meter backstroke, thus becoming only the second Frenchwoman to win three medals in a single Olympic Games, Summer or Winter. The first one was the track and field athlete Micheline Ostermeyer in London in 1948. Manaudou was by far the best swimmer on the French team, but she did not have the team support to win a medal in the women’s 4×200 m freestyle relay.
Manaudou is currently tied for third (three medals altogether) on the all-time list of French multiple female Winter or Summer Olympic medal winners along with Micheline Ostermeyer, Marielle Goitschel, Pascale Trinquet-Hachin, Perrine Pelen, Anne Briand-Bouthiaux, Marie-José Pérec, Félicia Ballanger and Camille Muffat. The all-time leader is the fencer Laura Flessel-Colovic, who has five Olympic medals.
On 17 September 2009, at 22 years of age, Manaudou announced through the newspaper Le Parisien her retirement from competitive swimming. She was quoted as saying, “It came to me little by little. I didn’t make it on impulse. It has matured slowly.” In October 2010, she returned to training in the United States with the Auburn University Tigers swim team. She made her return to competition on July 14, 2011 in Tigers colours at a small swimming meet in Athens, Georgia in the United States, where she set a personal record in the 50 m freestyle event (25.84 s).
Manaudou competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in three events – 100 m backstroke, 200 m backstroke, and the 4 x 100 m medley relay. She failed to advance from the first round heats in all the three events. However, she was poolside on August 3 as her younger brother Florent won a surprise victory in the men’s 50 m freestyle final, and embraced him following his victory.
The weekly magazine Paris Match ran a cover story on Manaudou in its 5–11 April 2007 issue.From 2001–2007, Manaudou was coached by Philippe Lucas. She competed for the Melun-Dammarie club until 2006, when she moved to Canet-en-Roussillon.On 9 May 2007, she announced at a press conference at the Canet-en-Roussillon swim club that she was leaving her coach Philippe Lucas to move to Italy and to train with the club Lapresse Nuoto, located in Turin. She added, however, that she would continue to swim for France.
On 6 August it was reported that Manaudou had been removed from her Italian-based team. The split is said to have been triggered by a fallout between Manaudou and LaPresse Nuoto club chief executive Paolo Penso. Penso is believed to have questioned Manaudou’s attitude to training (Reuters/L’Equipe).
Manaudou won four medals in the European Championships of 2007, despite reported conflicts between her and Luca Marin, her Italian ex-boyfriend. The same day, lewd pictures of Laure Manaudou started to propagate on the Internet. Marin denied being the culprit. On April 2, 2010, she and her boyfriend, Frédérick Bousquet, also a world class swimmer, welcomed their first child, daughter Manon.
- Between June 2004 and April 2008, Manaudou remained unbeaten in the 400 metres freestyle, winning 23 finals in succession.
- 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia 200 meters 1:55.52 World Record.
- 2006 European Championships in Budapest Hungary 400 meters 4:02.13 World Record.
Her official website: http://www.lauremanaudou.fr
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