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French swimmer Manaudou wins women's 400m freestyle
Updated: 2004-08-16 07:59

Laure Manaudou of France won the women's 400 meter freestyle at the 28th Olympic Games in Athens on Sunday.

Manaudou, 18, who won the event in this year's European championships, clocked four minutes 5.34 seconds for the gold.

The French woman has made dramatic improvement in the past year.She finished a distant 13th place in this event in the world championships in Barcelona last year.

"I didn't think I'd be so far in front of the second swimmer," Manaudou said. "It's hard to start that fast and maintain the speed all along."

Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak took the second with 0.50 seconds behind, which was her second silver on the night following the similar performance in the women's butterfly.

"It's always difficult to compete in two races in the same session, especially in the Olympic Games," Jedrzejczak said. "I amvery satisfied with the two silvers and the times. It was my firstmajor success in this new event for me."

The bronze went to US swimmer Kaitlin Sandeno in 4:06.19.

"I am very happy with the time and I am having a great meet," said Sandeno.

The gold was almost sure to be in Manaudou's pocket after triple world champion Hannah Stockbauer of Germany suffered a surprising elimination Sunday morning, although she is "not so confident."

Manaudou posted the fastest qualifying time for the final in 4:06.76.

Stockbauer, the 400m, 800m and 1,500m free world champion, finished fourth in the 5th heat in four minutes 10.46 seconds.

The 22-year-old German finished 12th overall, more than a second outside the time of slowest qualifier Sachiko Yamada of Japan.

"The time is not too bad for me, but I can't explain what happened," said the 2003 Swimmer of the Year named by Swimming World magazine.

"The time was actually not so bad but the others were faster. Ididn't think the others would be so fast," said a tearful Stockbauer.





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