French swimmer Florent Manaudou retired from swimming after winning a silver medal in the 50 free at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but appears to have no intention of doing the same after winning a silver medal in the 50 free at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The 30-year old CN Marseille trainee said after his podium finish on Sunday that he plans to continue training toward the next Olympic Games, which at 3 years away is a shorter distance than the usual 4 year interval.
“I want to do the Games in my country, I don’t yet know the level of performance that I will have but I want to do the Games with the public, to share all my years of practice and happiness with the French public,” Manaudou said. “We will see what the result will be, happiness will certainly be elsewhere in Paris, but I would obviously like to bring back a medal, it is the ultimate goal.”
The next Olympic Games will be hosted in Paris in Manaudou’s home country of France, which Manaudou has alluded to gives him an extra motivation.
Manaudou won gold in London in 2012, silver in Rio, and silver again in Tokyo. With his Sunday swim, he becomes just the 2nd swimmer to medal in three consecutive Olympic Games in the 50 free, after Gary Hall, Jr., who went silver-gold-gold in 1996, 2000, and 2004, respectively.
The 6’6″ Manaudou, who is built more like a linebacker than a swimmer, will be 33 by the time the Paris Games kick off in July 2024. While that would make him among the oldest swimming medalists in Olympic history, male sprinters especially have shown the ability to perform into their 30s at recent Olympics. In 2016, Anthony Ervin won gold in the 50 free when he was 35 years old. On Sunday, the man who finished one spot behind Manaudou was Bruno Fratus, who at 32 is the oldest swimmer to win his first Olympic medal.
Manaudou walked away from swimming after the 2016 Olympics to pursue his dream of playing professional handball. By 2019, however, he announced that he was ready to return to the pool, in part motivated by the International Swimming League format that he says reinvigorated his passion for the sport.