Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Van den Hoogenband impressed by Laure Manaudou

400m freestyle gold medallist Laure Manaudou is being feted as leader of the French swimming revolution, but she could just as easily have been sporting a pair of clogs as she mounted the podium.

Manaudou - second in an epic 800m freestyle at the Olympics in Athens to add to a 100m backstroke bronze - has a Dutch mother and, with her impressive performances in the Athens pool, the 17-year-old has made herself a second home in The Netherlands.

"Her shoulders rise out of the water superbly, with impeccable technique: she's really good," gushed Dutch 100m freestyle gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband. "Jacco [Verhaeren, VDH's coach] and I have spoken a lot about her. He dreams of coaching such a girl. He's convinced - as I am - that if she went for the 200m backstroke, she'd be unbeatable."

This dream might even come true, since Manaudou expressed her desire to represent The Netherlands after her clash with the French Swimming Association, who denied her world record at the 1500m event.


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