For five weeks, Florent Manaudou has been living on Margaret Island in Budapest in the “bubble” of ISL, the private swimming league which brings together the world’s elite in the Hungarian capital. The 2012 Olympic champion in the 50m freestyle was one of the main architects of his Energy Standard team’s qualification for next weekend’s four-man final. Smiling and relaxed, the French sprinter receives us in his room on the 3rd floor of the Thermal Hotel, whose view of the Danube he already knows by heart …
How is your Hungarian life going?
FLORENT MANAUDOU. It’s starting to be a bit long … (Smile) I took twice a day off in five weeks… and that was to tour the island. It’s still quite special. I stay in the room, I watch movies. Fortunately I have my girlfriend (Editor’s note: Danish swimmer Pernille Blume), I am not the most to be pitied.
Are you satisfied with your stay?
It’s super positive. I hadn’t had such a long time in one place since my return (Editor’s note: announced in March 2019 after three years of handball parenthesis). I don’t yet have all the weapons to fight like four or five years ago, but it’s on the way… Being in a bubble forces me to find things that don’t necessarily occur to me . When we train at home, we go to the swimming pool, we come home and we become a normal human being again. Here in my room, I think swimming, I watch videos, little things like that that I wouldn’t do in Marseille.
Can multiple races with your rivals for the Tokyo Olympics allow you to gain mental strength?
No. Already it is the small basin. In addition, with the crisis, some swimmers like Caeleb Dressel (Editor’s note: the favorite for gold over 50m NL) prepared, others like Morozov did not train for nine months. The level difference is significant. The ISL offers us so many confrontations that we can no longer reason as before when we could cross paths just once or twice a year. Whether or not I beat Caeleb in the ISL final will not change anything for the Games. But the fact that we are forced to race against each other pulls us all up because we get to put ourselves in a slightly different state of mind. Each time I step on the pedestal, there is no room for error.
What are you still missing on the road to Japan?
Physically, I still lack a bit of joint mobility. Handball padlocked my joints a bit. I regained 80% in the first ten weeks and since then I have struggled a little to find the mobility of the pelvis on the waves, where I was very strong before. On the mental side, I always want to win, I’m exactly the same.
In these uncertain times about the holding of the Games, is having already been an Olympic champion an asset?
Verry much. I came back to try to win but I’m 30 years old, a career behind me, and if that doesn’t happen, I will have already had what I wanted as a kid. I take a slightly different approach. I still have the niac but I do not risk missing THE moment of my life. Imagine Dressel, who is amazing right now. If the Games do not take place in 2021 and before 2024 there is a guy who appears, it will be c … for him. I am very well where I am.
What are you going to do after ISL?
Go back to Marseille where I will stay at least a month and a half, the time to do the French Championships (Editor’s note: planned from December 10 to 13 in Saint-Raphaël). Above all, I’m going to reconnect with my friends because it’s important. What I miss the most is being able to talk about something other than swimming. Then, it will be important to stay in Europe. We saw on the last confinement that it was complicated to come back from Turkey (Editor’s note: his training base), where the situation is also tense with Erdogan. There are plenty of things to see …
You’ve been hyperprotected for five weeks. Do you understand the health protocol at the French Championships?
I want to go because I am playing my qualification (Editor’s note: even if other meetings are qualifying). Afterwards, it may be necessary to consider reducing the number of swimmers planned. There is no point in a 30th Frenchman taking unnecessary risks. Like most people, I’m not afraid of having the Covid but of being in contact, of infecting a loved one. We must participate in this collective effort and it would be a shame for France to be a cluster …
Sport in France is in trouble with the crisis. Are you worried about its future?
I was long before the virus! Sport is far from being a priority for us and that’s a shame. It’s like when I was a kid: do your studies, follow your course … In the United States, athletes go to college precisely because they are athletic! With the Covid, it’s even worse. I see how my brother (Editor’s note: Nicolas) leads. If we continue like this, there will be no more breeding grounds. We still have Paris 2024 coming up… It’s hard to make things happen and it will be even slower.
You celebrated your 30th birthday last Thursday. What does this mean to you?
It made me think about all the guys like Fab (Gilot), Fred (Bousquet) who said: p … I can recover less. I realize this is somewhat true. For me the best years are between 25 and 35 years old. You can still be athletic at a very good level but also have a lot of experience. We’re a young adult and I think that’s pretty cool. I could not wait. I’ve been saying I’m thirty for two or three years now! The last guy who beat me at the Games was 35 (Editor’s note: Anthony Ervin). I will try to do like him next year and in 2024 in Paris.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr