Florent Manaudou

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Olympic champion Florent Manaudou returns to the pool with sights set on Tokyo

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Olympic gold medalist Florent Manaudou of France is back to competitive swimming after more than two years away.

The 28-year-old, who won gold in the 50m free at the London 2012 Games and two silver medals in Rio before taking a hiatus, told L’Equipe he plans to train for the Tokyo 2020 Games with the International Swimming League (ISL) Energy Standard squad.

“I’ve been thinking for months. I want to resume the competition,” he told L’Equipe. “For some time, I miss it more and more…talking with my family, my former coaches, I set myself a challenge: to jump [back] in the competition.”

One of the first people he consulted was his sister, Laure, who won gold in the 400m free at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Florent, then 13, watched from the stands in Greece, but they made a pact to compete together at the Olympics, fulfilling that goal in London.

Entering the Rio Games as the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 50m free, Manaudou was the favorite in an often unpredictable event. He came up just .01 seconds short of a second straight Olympic title, finishing behind American Anthony Ervin. After the Games, Manaudou told French newspaper La Provence that his ultimate goal was to compete at the Olympics in two different sports, and shifted his attention to handball (his father, Jean-Luc, was a handball player and coach). Manaudou also worked as a commentator for French TV during the 2017 World Championships and 2018 European Championships.

But still, the pool was calling. And Manaudou sensed he had untapped potential.

“I don’t even know what I can do,” he said, according to L’Equipe. 

He’ll have a team of accomplished training mates with the Energy Standard team: Olympic gold medalists Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden and South Africa’s Chad le Clos are both team captains.