Honestly, I didn't believe it at all!
These were the first words of Marie Wattel, on June 19, just after she had just won the title of vice-world champion in the 100m butterfly in Budapest.
It must be said that at the beginning of April, by her own admission, the Frenchwoman had taken "
a big slap
» during the French Championships in Limoges.
Admittedly, she had won three titles there – 50 and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly – but on this last distance, her favorite, she had only won with a time of 58''61.
Far, very far from allowing him to claim a world medal.
A disappointment that followed that, nine months earlier, at the Beijing Olympics where she aspired to get on the podium before failing in the final in 6th place.
Unable to repeat her performance in the semi-final where she broke the French record in 56”16.
These games thus maintained the reputation of the native of Lille to have a lot of talent, but also a more fragile mind under the pressure of major events.
What Budapest would later deny, as recognized by Julien Jacquier, his coach at the Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, in the columns of Natation Magazine: “
Her liabilities could suggest that her mind sometimes plays tricks on her, but she has evolved in this domain.
She is an exceptional swimmer who sometimes comes up against complicated times.
Ups and downs, we all know them.
You have to learn to manage them.
In Budapest, she demonstrated her strength of character.
Some start, they are Olympic champions, others need to go through many stages, to learn to know themselves, to know the international level.
To have been scared, to have been confident, you have to have known everything to do races like she did during these Worlds.
It is his way.
Leaving England for Marseilles
Not a long calm river for this young woman who had the merit of never letting go.
This medal in Budapest was a lot of emotions
,” she confides.
I made my first French team at 16.
I made my first individual medal at the Worlds at the age of 25 in individual.
Between the two, I had a lot of difficult moments, during which I doubted whether I could do it.
But I was able to recover from my failures and the work ended up paying off.
Without wanting to sound arrogant, I think I deserved it.
This title of vice-world champion also came to comfort her in her choice, after the Tokyo Olympics, to leave England, where she had been training for five years, to come to Marseille.
I made this choice because it made sense for me to prepare for the Paris Games in France,
Besides, I had only planned to stay in England for an Olympics, even if it ended up lasting another year.
I don't like routine and five years in England was a very long time.
At the end, I really wanted to leave.
It had done the same thing to me when I left Nice (in 2016).
Without her World Cup rivals
Now, in Rome this week for the European Championships, she faces a new challenge: that of defending the title won in the 100m butterfly two years earlier in… Budapest.
A pool that visibly succeeds.
If she will also compete in the 50m freestyle and the 50m butterfly, it will be of course the round trip in paillon that she is expected.
Especially since in the Italian capital, she will not have in front of her the one who beat her at the Worlds, the American Torri Huske, nor even the one who took the bronze medal, the Chinese Zhang Yufei .
Leaving Budapest, she had let go, full of enthusiasm: “
I really didn't expect to be at this level here.
My real objective was more in Rome.
I'm really excited and confident for the future.
It's up to her to demonstrate it in the transalpine city, especially on August 14, the day of the 100m butterfly final.