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September 19, 2009

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Manaudou walks away from pool at 22

FORMER World and Olympic swimming champion Laure Manaudou has retired at the age of 22.

"I quit. This hasn't been an easy decision to take," the Frenchwoman told yesterday's edition of Le Parisien newspaper. "It came to me little by little. I didn't make it on impulse."

"I've got all the titles," Manaudou added. "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 when she won the 400-meters freestyle at the Athens Olympics in 2004, said she lost her motivation after splitting with the coach behind her successes, Philippe Lucas.

"She made the right choice by deciding to stop," Lucas told the Le Point magazine Website. "At last, she is going to enjoy some peace of mind."

Manaudou, a three-time world champion whose turbulent personal life has been chronicled in the French tabloids, 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."

After splitting with Lucas, she decided to move to Italy to get closer to her then boyfriend, Italian swimmer Luca Marin. She joined the LaPresse Nuoto Club in Turin only to be fired three months later because of her lack of motivation at training. She went back to her local club, Amberieu, before moving to Mulhouse and eventually joining Marseille.


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