Tearful Olympic exit for France's Manaudou
The swimmer said she is really disappointed that she came in seventh in the final of the Olympic 100 metres backstroke on Tuesday.12 August 2008
BEIJING - Laure Manaudou, France's golden girl in Athens four years ago, cut a sorry figure after trailing in seventh in the final of the Olympic 100 metres backstroke here Tuesday.
Her lacklustre performance came a day after she finished last in the 400m freestyle final - the event where she claimed Olympic gold in 2004 - and was the latest chapter in an ongoing tale of woe for the 21-year-old inside and outside the swimming pool.
"I'm really disappointed," a tearful Manaudou, the bronze medallist in the 100m backstroke in Athens, told the France 2 television station after finishing more than a second behind Natalie Coughlin as the American successfully defended her title.
Manaudou added: "I don't know if it's worth going on, I don't have the will to swim. It's only my family who believe in me now, that's the only reason I keep going at all."
Her defeat still left France, a country where swimming is a high-profile sport, still searching for gold at the Water Cube after their highly-regarded men's 4x100m freestyle relay were just pipped into second-place Monday by the United States.
French print journalists looking to speak to Manaudou then saw the swimmer walk straight past them with a towel over her head.
Manaudou was already dejected after coming last in Monday's 400m freestyle final, an event where she admitted she had given up.
"I gave up trying because finishing eighth is no different from finishing fifth. I realised I just could not keep up," explained Manaudou, succeeded by surprise British champion Rebecca Adlington.
In March, Manaudou lost her 400m world record and European title to Italy's Federica Pellegrini in Eindhoven.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Pellegrini also 'took' her Italian swimmer boyfriend Luca Marin.
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 dethroned as France's undisputed 400m freestyle queen, with younger team-mate Coralie Balmy coming in ahead of her in the French National Championships.
Romania's Athens 200m Olympic freestyle gold medallist Camelia Potec also finished ahead of her in the same race, having come under the wing of Manaudou's former mentor Philippe Lucas.
The defeat again left Manaudou in tears but she said in July: "It's easier to arrive in Beijing with the fifth, sixth, or seventh time than the first and have that pressure with all the people scrutinising your every move."
But, with just an outside chance left of salvaging her Beijing Olympics in the 200m backstroke, it seems the pressure has got to Manaudou.
[AFP / Expatica]
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