Connect with Us:  

Stravius Fights Back; Flo Flips Fred In 21.55

Apr 10, 2013  - Craig Lord

Jérémy Stravius takes helm of world ranks in 100m backstroke; Olympic champion Florent Manaudou takes 50m free in 21.55 to set the sprint pace for the rest of the world this season

Jérémy Stravius, of Amiens, took the first scalp of the year in his domestic duel with joint 2011 world champion Camille Lacourt, a 53.09 to 53.65 win in the 100m backstroke at French nationals in Rennes catapulting him to the helm of the world ranks.

The season-leading performance from Stravius comes a year after the world champ missed the cut for the Olympic Games with a third-place finish at French nationals. Lacourt was king on that occasion but today, Stravius, out in 25.61, 0.1sec ahead of his rival, came home in 27.48 for a solid victory that reflects the fire in his belly ignited by defeat and disappointment. Lacourt took silver ahead of Eric Ress, on 54.94.

The winning effort marked the second-best time of Stravius' career, the world crown shared in 52.76 in Shanghai. He and Lacourt were among three new names on the France team list for World Championships in Barcelona this July and August.

Stravius' coach Michel Chrétien said: "I was a little nervous for Jeremy. This race was symbolic for him. He was the favourite and Camille is a formidable opponent. He did it [won] and that's a success but how he did it can be improved on." He winces as he notes that Stravius "forgets efficiency in his effort to give it everything" and needs to work on managing "the release of energy at the right moment".

Olympic champion Florent Manaudou made it 1-1 in the Uncle-Papa sprint stakes in France: in 21.55, the best in the world this year, he got the better of a 21.73 from Fred Bousquet in the 50m freestyle final. Both men, already on the team for the 'fly dash, will race in Barcelona in the free sprint.

The Marseilles teammates are linked at the hip through Manon, daughter to Fred with Laure Manaudou and niece to Florent, Laure's young bro. In the water, there's no link beyond the battle, the goal and the London 2012 sprint king took the win over a man who missed the cut for the Games last year but stuck with it and yesterday pipped Manaudou for victory in the 50m butterfly.

Laure tweeted Manon's prediction earlier in the day:

  • Manon tu penses que papa va gagner ?
  • Non c est tonton Flo
  • Pourquoi ?
  • Parce que c'est comme ça

Uncle Florent claimed the Olympic 50m freestyle crown in 21.34, the best ever in a textile suit, while Bousquet holds the French record in 20.94, from the last season of shiny suits in 2009, Cesar Cielo (BRA) having left the world mark at 20.91 in December 2009 just before a ban on bodysuits and booster non-textile materials.

In third in Rennes today was Amaury Leveaux, on 22.05, with Belgium's Yoris Grandjean fourth in 22.44, the next two home on 22.83, which happened to be the winning time in the B final too.

Giacomo Perez Dortona gave Marseilles another qualifier for the World Championships in Barcelona this summer, his 1:00.64 victory off a 28.40 split dominating the final. The minor spoils went to Thomas Dahlia, 1:02.25, and William Debourges, 1:02.48.

Camille Muffat, meanwhile, has been working on her speed: last year on the way to 400m gold and 200m silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games, her season-best 100m was a 54.40 in Monaco in June. Today in the 100m semis, she booked lane 4 for the final tomorrow in 53.61. 

The time is not only a lifetime best for the 23-year-old, inside her 53.97 from 2011, but is the fastest ever by a Frenchwoman under prevailing suit rules. The national mark is held at 53.49 by 2004 50m Olympic silver medallist Malia Metella, from 2009, Muffat's effort today the second-best ever on the clock in her country.

In the first race of the evening, the fastest heat of the straight-final 1500m, six men cracked 15:30. Enzo Vial Collet, racing for Mullhouse and leaving behind his teenage years this season, clocked  15:19.72 for gold ahead of Nice's  Damien Joly, 15:20.80, and Marseilles' Lucas Vigorito, 18, on 15:22.31. Benoît Debast, 17 and the first Frenchman home in the 400m yesterday, clocked 15:25.26 just ahead of Axel Reymond, 18, on 15:26.16, with 17-year-old Joris Bouchant on 15:29.48. 

Vial Collet was 5sec down on Joly at the 1000m mark but had clawed back 4sec of that with 200m of the battle remaining and entered the last 100m a fraction ahead of his rival from Nice, momentum and pace with him.

The session came to a close with the women's 4x200m freestyle, the Hungarian quartet of Agnes Mutina (2:00.20), Dara Eszter (2:02.05), Sara Joo (2:03.47) and Evelyn Verraszto (2:01.61) first home in 8:07.33, Antibes the first French team to the wall in 8:17.85.

France team for Barcelona 2013 World Championships after day 2 of trials

  • Women: 
  • 400FR: Camille Muffat; Coralie Balmy
  • 50BU:  Mélanie Henique; Marie Wattell
  • 50BR: Sarah Vaisse
  • Men:
  • 50BU & 50FR: Fred Bousquet; Florent Manaudou
  • 100BK: Jérémy Stravius; Camille Lacourt
  • 100BR: Giacomo Perez Dortona