Merchant flies like a butterfly

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Budapest (AFP) – Three days after his title in the 400m medley, Léon Marchand, prodigy of French swimming, once again stood on the podium of the World Championships in Budapest by winning the silver medal in the 200m butterfly on Tuesday.

He could climb there a third time on Wednesday evening since he will be the favorite in the final of the 200m medley.

In Hungary, the “Duna Arena” caught fire when local star Kristof Milak, 22, hit the wall first, smashing his own world record (1 min 50 sec 34).

This electric atmosphere did not seem to disturb Marchand, who set a new personal best, improving at the same time the French record he had already beaten on Monday (1 min 53 sec 37).

Far from the lead halfway through the race, he took off on the second part to overtake several competitors, including the Japanese Tomoru Honda, who completed the podium.

“I mainly played for the medal, the time I didn’t watch too much but it’s true that I did 1.53, it’s still quite phew,” he said.

“More Emotions”

Crowned in the 400m medley on Saturday by brushing against Michael Phelps’ world record, Marchand has established himself as a locomotive likely to trigger a positive momentum for the French team with a view to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Frenchman Léon Marchand at the Budapest Worlds on June 21, 2022 Oli SCARFF AFP

His communicative smile and his performance make him a leader by example for the entire workforce. “He inspires us enormously,” said Marie Wattel of him after his silver medal in the 100m butterfly on Sunday. “He shocked us all! (…) He was incredible and he inspires us to break all barriers: mental barriers, records.”

The Frenchman, who left Toulouse after the Olympics to train in the United States under Bob Bowman, Phelps’ ex-coach, had a busy day with the heats of the 200m medley in the morning , then the half of this same event and the final of the 200 m butterfly in the evening. Without forgetting the protocol ceremony of the podium.

A day that he lived without stress despite the traffic jams in the Hungarian capital which delayed his bus by twenty minutes in the evening.

“This is the day that I most want to do,” he had launched the day before. The sequence of races, “it’s more emotions in the same afternoon”, he explained. “If I could do six, I would do six.”

Grousset and Pigrée in the final

The day has in any case filled his trainer. “It’s a very good performance, a very good double. He managed what he had to do very well,” said Bob Bowman, present in the staff of the France team.

On Wednesday, he will not be the only Frenchman to aim for a podium.

Maxime Grousset will be in the 100m freestyle final. Revelation of the Tokyo Olympics last summer thanks to his fourth place in the final of the queen race, the New Caledonian dominated his semi-final from start to finish in 47 sec 54.

But he will have a lot to do in the final against the Romanian David Popovici, who swam faster in the second semi-final (47 sec 13). On the other hand, he will benefit from the withdrawal of the Olympic champion in the discipline, the American Caeleb Dressel, who withdrew for “medical reasons”.

Analia Pigrée will defend her chances in the 50m backstroke final after qualifying by improving the French record she held.

By setting a time of 27 sec 29, the Guyanese beat the time she had set in August 2021 by ten tenths. She finished tied for second in her semi-final with the American Regan Smith, both behind the Canadian Kylie Mass (27 sec 22).

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