By John Lohn
NANCY, France, April 16. LAST summer, he was somewhat of a surprise medalist at the Olympic Games in Athens. At this summer’s World Championships in Montreal, however, Hugues Duboscq will be surrounded by high expectations.
On Saturday, the fourth day of the French Nationals, Duboscq blasted the field in the 100-meter breaststroke, clocking 1:01.64. Duboscq, who won the 200 breast earlier in the meet, finished well ahead of Senegal’s Malick Fall (1:03.34). In Athens, Duboscq took bronze in the 100 breast.
Maintaining his momentum, Fred Bousquet collected his fourth victory of the competition, as he claimed top honors in the 50 butterfly (24.15). In defeating Romain Barnier (24.52), Bousquet added to his titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle events and the 100 fly.
On the women’s side, the race of the night was the 200 freestyle, featuring Solenne Figues and Laure Manaudou, a pair of Olympic medalists. In the end, Figues hit the wall first with a mark of 1:59.45, slightly quicker than the 2:00.05 of Manaudou.
In the male version of the 200 free, Amaury Leveaux prevailed in 1:48.16 while Nicolas Rostoucher took second place in 1:50.10. Rostoucher did manage gold in the 200 individual medley, thanks to an effort of 2:03.38.
Aside from her second-place effort in the 200 free, Manaudou took second in the 200 I.M., where she touched behind only Camille Muffat (2:15.30). Manaudou, a three-event medalist in Athens, was timed in 2:16.09.
Kirsty Balfour and Alena Popchanka also secured championships, with Balfour’s arriving in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.83). She narrowly defeated Anne Le Paranthoen (1:10.86). As for Popchanka, the Belarus standout went 27.37 in the 50 butterfly, swifter than the 27.47 of Malia Metella.