Florent Manaudou Weighs in On Getting Beat in Rio & Why He Left to Play Professional Handball

Florent Manaudou
Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

2012 Olympic champion Florent Manaudou appeared on Brett Hawke’s podcast from the ISL bubble as the Energy Standard sprinter is leading the league in the 50 free, third in the 100 IM, fourth in the 100 free, 13th in the 50 fly and 21st in the 50 back.

Manaudou opened up by talking about how he and his sister Laure both won Olympic gold medals during their career (2:00), with Laure winning the 400 freestyle in 2004 and Florent winning the 50 free in 2012. Laure’s 400 free was France’s first Olympic gold medal in the swimming pool since Jean Boiteux won the 400 free in 1952. He reflected on watching her win the 400 free in Athens and how it inspired him in his career at age 14.

Florent Manaudou first watched swimming at the Olympics in 2000 and idolized Ian Thorpe (6:45) growing up and wanted to emulate him. Manaudou trained with Romain Barnier and James Gibson in the lead-up to the 2012 Games, believing he had a chance to win an individual medal in the 50 if he managed to get on the Olympic team (9:00), out-dueling France’s powerhouse sprint squad that the country had at the time and that once he made the team, he believed he could win a medal.

Manaudou reminisced on his gold medal winning swim (11:00) in the 50 free and what Gibson told him before he left to swim the final. Although he has an Olympic gold medal, Manaudou doesn’t believe he is a “legend” in the sport until he wins a second Olympic gold (14:00). But Manaudou talked about how difficult it was for him to continue to motivate himself after winning in London (16:00), getting beat by Amaury Leveaux and Cesar Cielo at Nationals and World Championships in the subsequent years.

Leading into the 2016 Olympics, Florent Manaudou was the heavy favorite to repeat in Rio in the 50 and he talked about how he thought he was going to win the gold medal (18:00) even more than he did in London. But when the 4×100 free relay lost the gold medal, the French team did not meet expected results the rest of the week – Camille Lacourt and Yannick Agnel not performing up to expectations. Manaudou’s mindset was not where it should have been leading into the final so he said, and he believed that’s why Anthony Ervin beat him by 0.01. After getting beat in Rio, he briefly left swimming and played professional handball and explained why he made that decision so abruptly (29:30), citing his work as done in the sport of swimming.

He talked about how mindset in a 50 freestyle is so important and how he trains his mind to think he is going to win a race no matter who is around him (23:26). Manaudou is one of the favorites to win the gold medal in Tokyo in the 50 free and he weighed over whether he would rather be Olympic champ or the first man under 21 seconds in textile (25:30) and whether breaking 21 seconds is possible. Florent Manaudou’s best all-time is 21.19, which puts him second all-time in France behind world record holder Fred Bousquet (20.94).

Caeleb Dressel, the two-time reigning World champ in the 50 free, is one of Florent Manaudou’s main rivals in the 50 free and he talked about how much he enjoys racing him (28:00) in the ISL and what he expects from a potential long course showdown.

Manaudou closed out the interview by giving his opinion on who the greatest sprinter in history is (33:00).