Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Troubled French swimming star pulls the plug on season

AFP , PARIS

Fallen French swimming star Laure Manaudou will not be in action this year saying she has lost the will to compete at the highest level.

“Laure Manaudou has decided to end her season in order to take a break from top level swimming,” her lawyer Didier Poulmaire said in a written statement yesterday.

“Laure currently feels totally saturated and this has deprived her of the pleasure and desire to swim,” he said.

“Without this desire to swim, which drove her on to put together one of the finest records in international swimming, Laure no longer can produce the physical and mental qualities needed to achieve top performances,” Poulmaire said.

The 22-year-old became a national heroine at the 2004 Athens Olympics when she took gold in the 400m freestyle — the first ever for her country for a woman. She also won silver in the 800m freestyle and bronze in the 100m backstroke.

Despite going on to set several world records, Manaudou struggled to stay on top as problems with her long-time coach and an ugly breakup with her Italian swimmer boyfriend saw her picture splashed over the gossip magazines.

She attempted to bounce back at the Beijing Olympics but failed misearbly and fled the pool in tears.

Poulmaire also said in his statement that another reason for her taking a break was that she was struggling with a shoulder injury and regular severe headaches which were wrecking her training.

Manaudou’s father Jean-Luc said that his daughter would leave to spend some time in the US, possibly in the company of another top French swimmer Frederic Bousquet

Bousquet is believed to be heading to Auburn University to better prepare for the World Championships being held in Rome in July.

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