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French swimmer Manaudou retires

FRANCE'S greatest swimming champion of all time, Laure Manaudou, has retired at the age of 22.

"I quit. This hasn't been an easy decision to take," the former World and Olympic champion told today's edition of Le Parisien newspaper. "It came to me little by little. I didn't make it on impulse. It has matured slowly."

"I've got all the titles," Manaudou said. "I had everything I wanted, even more than in my dreams... I have all the time to think about my future."

Manaudou, who gave France its first swimming gold since Jean Boiteux in 1952 at the Athens Olympics in 2004, said she lost her motivation after splitting with the coach behind her successes, Philippe Lucas.

Manaudou left Lucas in 2007, one year before the Beijing Olympics where she finished last in the final of the 400-meters freestyle. She finished seventh in the 100 meters freestyle and was eliminated in the heats for the 200-meters backstroke.

"I continued because of the Beijing Olympics," Manaudou said. "I realized later what I felt at the time. I understood that it was the moment when I lost the pleasure of swimming."

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Manaudou won gold in the 400, silver in the 800 and bronze in the 100 backstroke, becoming only the second Frenchwoman to win three medals in a single summer or winter games.

Manaudou, who is dating French swimmer Frederick Bousquet, recently featured in a French movie called "The coach" and is reportedly planning on becoming an interior decorator.


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