The Northerner won her first individual world medal on Sunday in the Budapest basin.
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Marie Wattel holds her medal. The 25-year-old from Lille finished second in the 100m butterfly final on Sunday June 19 in the large pool of the Duna Arena in Budapest. She was overtaken by American favorite Torri Huske (55″64), but finished ahead of China’s Yufei Zhang, third (56″41). This is his first individual medal in the world championships, the second after bronze in the 4x100m in Gwanju, in 2019. France therefore sees its medal count climb to two, after the gold conquered by Léon Merchant, Saturday.
In addition to winning her silver medal, Marie Wattel offers herself a new personal best and, consequently, improves her own French record (56″14). Filled with emotions, tears in her eyes, the new vice- world champion reacted to the microphone of France Télévisions: “There’s a lot of relief… I’ve been in the middle several times and I didn’t belay and lose by finishing 6th, 7th or 8th. I fought until the end and there I’m swimming even faster than in Tokyo. I respected the strategy: in Tokyo, I started too hard and I broke down at the end. I have no regrets, I still have a lot of room for improvement.”
>> Relive Marie Wattel’s final in the 100 butterfly.
The last months of Marie Wattel have not been a long calm river. The swimmer left the basins of Loughborough where she had been exiled for more than four years to prepare for the Tokyo Games before returning to France and the Cercle des nageurs de Marseille. Missed French championships and doubts seized Wattel, who arrived at the World Championships in Budapest without “ambition for results”by his own admission and “in a phase of transition”.
By not putting pressure on herself, the neo-Marseillaise trained by Julien Jacquier, may have found the solution for the future and her ultimate goal: Paris 2024. With an improvement in her French record and swimming more than two seconds better than at the national championships in Limoges, at the beginning of April, Wattel reassured herself and demonstrated that she could shine in world-class finals.