French swimming star Laure Manaudou and brother Florent qualify for London 2012
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
March 28 - French swimming star Laure Manaudou (pictured), an Olympic, world and European champion, has qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, alongside her brother Florent, at the French Swimming Championships.
Laure Manaudou, one of the most high-profile swimmers in France, qualified for London 2012 in both the 100 and 200 metres backstroke events despite the fact she is better known as a freestyle specialist, having won gold in the 400m freestyle at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
The 25-year-old from Rhône was joined in securing qualification by her younger brother as 21-year-old Florent will compete in the 50m freestyle at this summer's Games.
It was a huge achievement for the elder sibling as Manaudou followed her spectacular performance at Athens with a disappointing display at Beijing 2008 where she finished last in the 400m freestyle final behind Britain's Rebecca Adlington, seventh in the 100m freestyle final and failed to qualify for the 200m backstroke final.
"I'm not going to say it's the same as winning Olympic gold, but it's a relief," she said after booking her slot at London 2012.
"We're going to really have to focus and give it everything we have at the Games."
Following her poor display in Beijing, Manaudou announced her retirement from competitive swimming but returned to the sport, following the birth of her first child in April 2010 with fellow French swimming star Frédérick Bousquet, with the aim of securing a medal at London 2012.
There will be particular attention on the Athens 2004 champion, who has won three World Championship gold medals and nine European Championship gold medals, after she admitted that she is living with the threat of suspension after missing two drugs tests this season.
She missed the two tests last September, the first because she got the wrong time and the second because she was out at a restaurant.
"That means that if I miss another one I would be suspended," she explained.
"In people's minds, it's like a positive test so I am permanently stressed"
Missing three out-of-competition tests in 18 months is considered a breach of anti-doping rules, which can lead to suspension, as happened to Britain's Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu (pictured), who received a one-year ban for missing tests in 2005 and 2006.
"I take care of everything myself so I'm responsible," Manaudou said.
"If anything happens to me, I can only blame myself.
"That's why I officially left the sport in 2009.
"I didn't want to keep living with this constraint knowing that it could mean missing the Games."
June 2011: Adlington set to face old rival after Olympic gold medallist ends retirement