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Laure Manaudou quits again

2013-01-30 22:45
Laure Manaudou (File)

Paris - Laure Manaudou, who became the first Frenchwoman to win Olympic swimming gold when she took the 400m freestyle at the 2004 Athens Games, quit for a second time on Wednesday and revealed she is expecting another baby.

"I am retiring," said the 26-year-old, who was also a three-time world champion.

"I'm sure I am stopping at the right time for everybody and that I will not be coming back.

She then added: "I am expecting a happy event. I am expecting a baby in August. But being pregnant is not the reason I have taken my decision. The two things have happened at the same time."

Following the 2008 Olympics, she announced her retirement at 22 and had a baby girl, Manon, in April, 2010, with former world record holder and Olympic medallist Frederick Bousquet.

Manaudou enjoyed her finest hour in Athens in 2004 where she also won 800m freestyle silver and 100m backstroke bronze as she became at 17.

"She influenced everyone," said Camille Muffat who wrote her own page of French swimming history in 2012 when she repeated Manaudou's feat by winning the 400m freestyle gold at the London Olympics.

Under the rugged training methods developed by her no-nonsense coach Philippe Lucas, Manaudou won 23 consecutive finals in her favoured 400m discipline during an amazing streak between 2004 and 2008.

The native of Villeurbanne, just northeast of Lyon, also won three world titles, including a 200m/400m double at the 2007 Melbourne-hosted championships and nine European golds as well as setting seven world records.

"She encouraged and help change French swimming and she was a great champion," said Lucas.

"She had a competitive spirit that was exceptional and there was a time when each time she dived the water, she won."

After splitting with Lucas in 2007, Manaudou's career was rocked by explicit nude photos that were allegedly circulated on the Internet by her ex-boyfriend Luca Marin although the Italian swimmer denied the claims.

The daughter of a French father and Dutch mother, her form began to dip heading into the 2008 Beijing Games and she memorably broke down on tears on television after finishing last in the 400m final.

After her first retirement, Manaudou returned to competition in 2011 and qualified for the 2012 London Games where she competed in the 100m and 200m backstroke races as well as the 4x100m medley relay without picking up a medal.

At the same Games, she was at poolside and celebrated wildly with her younger brother Florent after he surprisingly won the 50m freestyle gold.

Read more on:    swimming

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