Tokyo (AFP)

Florent Manaudou won his incredible bet in the 50m freestyle by snatching the money behind pool boss Caeleb Dressel on Sunday, while the king's scepter of the 100m sprint abandoned by Usain Bolt will be in play in the evening at the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

Olympic champion in 2012 in London, Olympic vice-champion in 2016 in Rio, Manaudou again responded and offered the French swimming team, until then empty-handed, a beautiful silver medal, the 20th for the French delegation in Tokyo.

Arrived in Tokyo without great certainty, Manaudou, 30, offered himself a third individual Olympic medal in three Olympic Games by completing his final in 21 sec 55, far from Dressel (21.07) certainly but just ahead of the Brazilian Bruno Fratus (21.57) .

After Rio, for two and a half years, he had abandoned swimming pools to try his luck in handball, his youthful passion, before plunging back into 2019.

But his return was disrupted by the pandemic and health restrictions: "It's hard to speak: third consecutive medal. I quit, I came back, it was a difficult year. It proves that we should not take the lead, you just have to swim. The body knows how to do it, "he commented on France 2.

His joy was all the stronger as his companion Pernille Blume won the bronze medal a few minutes after him over the same distance.

As soon as the Danish race was over, the two lovers kissed tenderly on the edge of the pool for one of the strong images of these Olympics!

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"It's never easy to win an Olympic medal, I was more stressed for her than for myself," smiled Manaudou, who now has four Olympic medals (one gold and two silver in the 50m freestyle, silver in the 4x100m relay at Rio)

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Dressel has now won him four Olympic titles in Tokyo (50 and 100 m freestyle, 100 m butterfly, 4x100 m relay), and can still add gold in the 4x100 m medley relay.

He will not come away with six titles as expected after the bankruptcy of the American 4x100m mixed medley relay, only fifth for the event's first appearance at the Games.

In athletics, there will be no French on the 100m podium, except for an incredible surprise, in the evening (9:50 p.m. local, 2:50 p.m. French).

Jimmy Vicaut is qualified for the semi-finals (19:15 local) and can on a good day validate his ticket for the final.

For these first Games after Bolt, winner of the last three Olympic titles on the queen-distance, no favorite to succeed him, but the contenders are numerous, between the Canadian Andre De Grasse, best time of the series, the Americans Trayvon Bromell, Fred Kerley or Ronnie Baker.

One thing is certain: her time will be dazzling on a very fast track as proven by Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who became Olympic champion on Saturday with the second time in history in 10 sec 61.

For the French medal chances, it will be necessary to follow Anthony Jeanjean in BMX freestyle (11:20 am local, 4:20 am French), the men's foil team and the last boxer in the running Mourad Aliev in the quarter-finals on Sunday (1:24 pm local, 6:24 am French), as well as the French eventing team which can take advantage of the cross country to relaunch.

© 2021 AFP

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