Florent Manaudou wins 50 free

Updated: August 3, 2012, 5:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LONDON -- Florent Manaudou of France won the 50-meter freestyle at the London Olympics on Friday.

The brother of former 400 free champion Laure Manaudou clocked 21.34 seconds in the one-lap race. He pounded the water out in Lane 7, then got a big hug from his sister as soon as he climbed from the pool.

It was France's fourth swimming gold of the Games.

Cullen Jones of the United States touched in 21.54 to take the silver medal, and defending Olympic and world champion Cesar Cielo of Brazil finished in 21.59 to take bronze.

Anthony Ervin, the 2000 Olympic champion who came back from an eight-year retirement, finished fifth after getting off to a poor start.

"I'm tired," said Cielo, still only 25 but the world's top sprinter for the last four years. "Age takes its effect."

Manaudou denied the Americans a sweep of the night's events. Jones did manage to take the first individual medal of his career, and vowed to come back even stronger at the 2016 Rio Games.

"I was dreaming in gold and I really wanted to get first, but it wasn't in the cards this time," he said. "I'll have to live with silver, and that's enough motivation for another four years."

Ervin seemed flustered by a slight delay in the start because of a woman yelling in the stands. He was slowest off the blocks -- a crucial miscue in the one-lap dash -- and never caught up. He was timed in 21.78, leaving him 0.19 behind Cielo for a spot on the podium.

Still, it's been quite a journey for the eclectic swimmer, who shared the 50 free title with Gary Hall Jr. at the Sydney Olympics, won a world title the following year, then stunningly walked away from the sport at age 22. Ervin was gone for eight years, selling off his gold medal to aid victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, playing in a band, finishing college and never staying in one place for too long.

Just one year after coming back, the 31-year-old nearly got another Olympic medal.

"Being here is my own form of redemption," he said. "What's next? I'm going to have a nice dinner with my friends and family, people I really care about. Without them, this could not have happened."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.