In early March 2016, while he was still dreaming of being the first swimmer since Alexander Popov to pull off the 50/100m freestyle double in an Olympic Games, France’s Florent Manaudou confided in the newspaper La Provence, “My absolute dream would be to take part in the Olympic Games in two different sports.” The declaration came during the Golden Tour tune-up meet at his home club, CN Marseille, a month before French Long Course Nationals and Olympic Trials.
Manaudou went on to say that he had played handball for ten years. His father was a handball player, and as Manaudou admitted, “I am lucky to have the genetic makeup that allows me to be explosive,” which helps him “to do pretty well for [himself] in a lot of sports.” He went on to say that even if it’s pretentious to think he could be a member of the French national team, he would nevertheless like to play the sport at some point. “I don’t know if it would be 2, 4 or 8 years, but if I were to get there one day, to play simply at the professional level, it would be great.”
Fast forward six months. Manaudou, who hadn’t qualified for the 100 free at French Trials, competed in the 50 free at Rio. Despite being only .01 away from the gold medal, he (and the French press, to be truthful) was disappointed with his performance. He announced he would be taking a break and would make a decision concerning his future on October 1st.
Today, Manaudou released the following press release (translated by SwimSwam) on his Facebook page:
An Air Bubble in the Lanes
Just after the Olympic Games in Rio, I began thinking about what my [post-Rio] life would be and what I truly wanted to do at the beginning of the new sporting year.
Coming off 2 cycles of 4 years, culminating in two Olympic medals, I want to preserve, and to hang onto, the pleasure that has been my driving force during these past 8 years. In agreement with my club, CN Marseille, its president and its head coach, I have decided to continue my affiliation with this club that gave me the means to achieve my sporting goals.
However, I also thought about the itineraries of other swimmers such as my sister Laure, the late Camille Muffat, and most recently Yannick Agnel. I also learned from the life lesson that Anthony Ervin gave with his winning comeback, or the way Michael Phelps has managed his career.
These examples make me not want to make hasty or radical decisions, or to continue without pleasure for the wrong reasons.
I have thus decided to take a break from my triple daily workouts (2 sessions of swimming and 1 session of weights), yet still remain an active swimmer who will compete in a few meets this year.*
At the same time, I want to find the inspiration in the practices that pull me toward the highest point. In order to silence the fantasies and speculations, I have in fact begun to train with the second team of the club Aix Handball because I quit this team sport, which complements swimming, too early. I am doing it with no other ambition than to give the best of myself and to find a different source of pleasure.
The world in which I move brings with it a lot of media pressure and I don’t want that to ruin my chances to one day earn another Olympic medal for France. Therefore I want to give myself the conditions [necessary] to start anew.
Fame has allowed me to meet exceptional people in such diverse areas as business, racing, acting, music, gastronomy, etc. I plan to explore with them those areas that attract me.
I will make myself even more available to the partners who have been supportive of me until now, and I will devote myself to the companies in which I am a shareholder (the restaurant “The Pool” and the coaching platform “Wineven”).
* I will swim at the upcoming Meeting de Tahiti from October 7-10, and at the French Interclub Championships on November 5-6.