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Narbonne: Next Home Of Nomadic Lucas

Sep 22, 2012  - Craig Lord

Philippe Lucas, the coach who shot to fame in France as mentor to Laure Manaudou, has left Paris and set up shop in Narbonne on a three-year, 150,000 euros a season contract. 

Amaury Leveaux, Olympic champion in the 4x100m freestyle in London, has travelled south with Lucas, while Italian media reports are full of the continuing saga of Federica Pellegrini and her wish to have Lucas spend some of his time in Verona in charge of her programme once more.

The politics inherent in standing between Pellegrini and the Italian swimming federation led by Paolo Barelli is cited by the French coach as a reason to be cautious. Lucas is quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport and others as saying "… it's complicated, because I do not want to find myself in the middle between the Italian Federation and the swimming coaches who want to choose the swimmers, and the Pellegrini clan."

In London, Pellegrini made the 200m and 400m freestyle finals but was not the force she had been and was never in serious title contention. She returned to training this month saying that she would have just the one coach - whoever that ends up being - on the way to Rio 2016.

Lucas is intending to build an elite squad in Narbonne. If much of that must evolve through recruitment, the Narbonne region also intends to inject 4 million euros into the development of sport, including modernisation of facilities. The coach has spent the past few years on the move in search of a centre at which to lay down roots.

Meanwhile, Leveaux's gold-medal winning relay partner in London, Fabien Gilot, has had a shoulder operation and will not be back in the hunt until next year.