CN Marseille sprinter Florent Manaudou has confirmed he will compete in both the 50 meter freestyle and 100 meter freestyle at France’s Olympic Team Trials in Montpellier next spring (March 29-April 3, 2016). Manaudou made the declaration in an interview with the French sports daily L’Equipe earlier this week.
Manaudou, the reigning Olympic champion in the 50 meter freestyle, has had an on-again off-again relationship with the 100 distance. He talked about his ambition to win Olympic gold in both the 50 and 100 freestyles last September. A couple months later, during the French short course national championships in Angers, Manaudou scratched the 100 after a poor performance in the 50. He told the press at the time that he didn’t want his work in the 100 to negatively affect his speed in the 50, and left the future of his attempting the 50-100 double in doubt.
After his recent performances at the Christmas meet in Nîmes last weekend, however, Manaudou has renewed his intention to become the first swimmer since Russia’s Alexander Popov to achieve the feat of winning both the 50 and 100 freestyles at the same Olympic Games (Popov did it in both 1992 and 1996). Manaudou blasted a world-leading 47.98 in the 100 LCM freestyle and a 21.80 in the 50 at Nîmes, which was just what he needed to get off the fence. He told the media afterwards, “With the time I went (in the 100), I want to give it a shot.”
Manaudou will be favored to win both distances in Montpellier, despite a crowded field in the 100 free. To make the French team for Rio, however, he will have to be one of the top two finishers under the qualifying standard of 21.82 in the 50 and 48.13 in the 100. In the latter distance he will be challenged by Marseille teammates Mehdy Metella, Grégory Mallet, Fabien Gilot, and William Meynard. Other contenders will include Yannick Agnel of Mulhouse and Jérémy Stravius and Eddie Moueddene of Amiens.