No pressure on me, says French swim star Manaudou
Laure Manaudou feels that winning in Beijing is not that important for her, as she has already won a Gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens6 August 2008
BEIJING - French swimming star Laure Manaudou insists she won't be under pressure in Beijing because, whatever happens, she has already bagged an Olympic gold medal.
The 21-year-old finished on top of the podium as a teenager when triumphing in the 400 metres freestyle at Athens four years ago and now, after a turbulent year, she has no problems with the spotlight being turned on her opponents.
Asked if she felt under less pressure in defending her title than she had in winning it at the 2004 Games, Manaudou - the first French woman to win an Olympic swimming gold medal, replied Wednesday: "Yes. The people around me have said that, whatever happens here, the really important result was at Athens”.
"Anything I achieve here is a bonus. If it goes well, great. If it doesn't go well, it's not the end of the world. I'm not going to die as a result”.
"In sport, you can't always be the best. I just hope to do my best and see what happens."
In March, Manaudou lost her 400m world record and European title to Italy's Federica Pellegrini in Eindhoven.
The situation was complicated by the fact that she'd also lost her Italian swimmer boyfriend Luca Marin to Pellegrini.
Manaudou's private life, which saw her go to live in Italy, was a staple of French gossip columns for much of 2007.
Things didn't become any easier for her when she returned to France with Manaudou changing club and coaches four times.
She also lost her 100m European backstroke title and to make matters worse compromising images of her emerged on the internet, with Marin denying suggestions he was responsible.
Meanwhile this year saw Manaudou, who will also compete in the 100m and 200m backstroke in Beijing, dethroned as France's undisputed 400m queen.
For the first time in nearly four years Manaudou lost in that event in the French National Championships, beaten by younger team-mate Coralie Balmy.
Romania's 200m Olympic freestyle champion Camelia Potec also finished ahead of her in the same race. To add insult to injury, Potec had come under the wing of Manaudou's former mentor Philippe Lucas.
The defeat left Manaudou in tears but in July she appeared to have gotten over the shock, saying: "It's easier to arrive in Beijing with the fifth, sixth, or seventh time than the first and have that pressure and all the people scrutinising your every gesture and move."
[AFP / Expatica]