“I am in paradise”: Léon Marchand, 20 years old and already the head of a leader

To see him in the water, next to the pools or in front of the microphones, we almost forget that he has only been 20 for a month. And that he only broke onto the international scene this week on the banks of the Danube. But Léon Marchand is like that. As stunning as it is refreshing. So much so that tricolor swimming seems to hold a nugget that can do him a lot of good in the coming years. Because the Toulousain has the ideal profile to be his locomotive for the next meeting that all of France is waiting for: the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

Crowned world champion in the 200m medley on Wednesday in Budapest a few days after his first title in the 400m medley on Saturday and having won a silver medal in the 200m butterfly on Tuesday, the young man, who left to train in the United States with Bob Bowman – former coach of legend Michael Phelps – stands out with its simplicity. While he impresses everyone in the pools, he keeps his face smiling all the time.

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Léon Marchand after his coronation in the 200m medley

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I manage to manage all that and then it’s just too fun to do these races

Watching him evolve, we almost have the impression that this week seems to be going on as if nothing had happened as he made headlines and seduced French sport. “It doesn’t really change, other than people telling me they’ve watched my races, they’re really impressed. What changes is just that I trust myself more and more now, I manage to manage the stress, I manage to manage all that and then it’s just too much fun to do these races“, he launched after his new demonstration on Wednesday.

This almost disconcerting relaxation allows him to assume his new status. On Wednesday, was he the favorite for the title in the 200m medley? Not a concern. He responded with style. “I got through it pretty well, it’s still a stress in addition to being at the N.4 lane, because obviously everyone is watching you, but I think I’m fine stayed on my course. I took it rather positively, that is to say that I was in the middle, I saw everyone. I could see what was going on in the race, so I could do my thing and touch in front, so that was cool“, he summarized on the FFN website.

Léon Marchand at the Budapest Worlds

Credit: Getty Images

I try to play my role within the team, to give advice

This recklessness is part of his strength. But the Blues also benefit from it. Guided by their young world champion who launched the dynamic from the first day of the Worlds, they are surfing on his wave with already six medals in these World Championships. On Wednesday, two other Blues thus climbed onto a podium: Maxime Grousset, silver medalist in the 100m freestyle, and Analia Pigrée, in bronze in the 50m backstroke. “We’ve been in a somewhat positive spiral for 3-4 daysnoted the Toulousain. I think it’s because we started strong with Marie (Wattel, vice-world champion in the 100m butterfly) and me, and suddenly everyone thinks that everyone can do something in each race. This afternoon, we won three medals for France, that’s not bad in one afternoon. It’s already better than the Tokyo Olympics. There is a good environment. We are quite relaxed in the team and we feel good.”

A boss speech. A boss who assumes in the water but does not forget to think of others. “It is not because I am world champion that I will transform myself. For my part, I try to play my role within the team, to give advice and to participate in community life.e”, slips the new phenomenon of French swimming, which keeps its feet on the ground. The one who became the third French swimmer to have won two individual world titles the same year after Laure Manaudou in Melbourne (2007) and Florent Manaudou in Kazan (2015) has also finished his individual quest for this week. But he wants more as he enjoys it.”Since Saturday, I wake up, I’m in paradise. I’m so happy to be here“, did he declare. “Unfortunately it was the last individual race, I hope I’ll do 2-3 stints but frankly it was a great week. I’m super happy with myself“. And we understand that.

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