There was probably not enough water in the Duna Arena in Budapest. So, Marie Wattel added her tears of joy and relief. Perhaps when she least expected it, the leader of Les Bleues, 25, won her first individual world medal. Silver more than happy with the 100m butterfly, with a new French record (56′’14) behind the American Huske (55′’64).
“She tastes like gold. There were so many doubts, failures, very hard times, the young woman still sobs a few minutes after the race. Two months ago, at the French Championships, I didn’t even do the qualifying time and we had to take my time from the Games into account. (Editor’s note: his former French record in 56′’16). Besides, I didn’t even want to dispute it because it wasn’t possible for me to relive France. And there, I beat my record. I did not expect this level but I think I deserve it. »
Everything comes at the right time… Wattel has often believed in it without succeeding. His sixth place at the Tokyo Olympics last summer served as a detonator. Between frustration at having cracked in the final and good prospects for 2024. Except that since then, the former resident of the Dauphins d’Annecy has changed everything. Bye-bye England, where she had just spent five years healing her wounds from Rio 2016 and pursuing graduate studies in sports management at Loughborough, the best sports campus in the country.
And hello Marseille for a new start with Julien Jacquier, the former coach of Florent Manaudou. A somewhat fluctuating Olympic in-between between the discovery of a different framework, a few discrepancies with diet and a knee injury at the start of the year. Suffice to say that the trip to Hungary almost looked like a (crash) test to test the Jacquier method: learning patience at the start of the race to be able to give everything in the last 15 meters.
“Frankly, I did not believe it, smiles the very fresh vice-world champion. After the semi-finals, I didn’t have a lot of margin and I was trying to tell myself not to play for the medal. And in the last 15 meters, I put all my rage of the last years. I have believed in it for a long time and I have never materialized. There, I concretize and I am super happy. It’s only been a few weeks that we’ve been working on releasing all my energy at the end and it’s already paying off, I’m really excited and confident for the future. »
Wattel got into the habit of putting his emotions into drawings. “The one before the race represents a lot of serenity, concentration on oneself, my inner bubble, not letting any external element affect me, she summarizes. If I had to make one of the finish, it would have to be something with lots of colors that pop in all directions. »
Like her 19 comrades from the French team, the European champion in the 100m butterfly (already in Budapest), felt carried by the Marchand wave, which splashed the world with her talent on Saturday evening by dominating the 400 m 4 strokes. “He gave us all a lot of energy,” she breathes. We’re a bit like a Team Phoenix reborn after the Games (Editor’s note: where the only Florent Manaudou, silver on 50 m NL is mounted on a podium). He inspires us so much. He shocked us all, I repeated 4′04 all night (Editor’s note: 4′04′’28, second performance of all time), I even dreamed of it! He inspires us to break all the barriers, we are all capable of it. »
And for Wattel, it may just be getting started. The Frenchwoman still has two 50m (NL and butterfly) and a 100m NL on the program…