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French Fed Will Not Budge On Bousquet

Mar 29, 2011  - Craig Lord

Christian Donzé, technical director of French Swimming, is sticking to his guns and has refused Fred Bousquet's request for France to select his coach at Auburn, Brett Hawke, as staff for the world championships in Shanghai this July - even if that means the sprinter boycotts or quits the sport.

Bousquet emerged from victory in the 50m butterfly at French nationals on Sunday to say that he would not race in Shanghai if Hawke was not "at the edge of the pool" with him in China. There was also a suggestion in the Bousquet camp, according to French media reports, that the sprinter would quit the sport if he did not get his way. That line was played down by the swimmer's agent Didier Poulmaire, who explained heated words as a reflection of the swimmer's "full-on and determined" attitude to the sport he works hard at.

However, Donzé tells L'Equipe today that while he had no problem with Bousquet working with Hawke in Shanghai should the Australian gain accreditation through another nation, there would be no accreditation with France, even if that meant Bousquet boycotting Shanghai or even quitting the sport. "I have never forbidden a swimmer speaking to his coach. If Brett Hawke has an accreditation with another nation over there, Fred will be able to work with him."

Those who sympathise with Bousquet's stance note that he will be the only key medal hope from France without his personal coach with him in Shanghai and point too to the sprinters need for specific, individual attention on race day for him to be at his best. 

None of which looks set to sway the jury. "The whole staff respects Fred and considers him to be a very important swimmer," France team manager Lionel Horter told the paper. "If he quit that would hurt the team but the main victim would be Fred himself. I hope that reason will prevail."