TOURS, France (AP) – Olympic champion Laure Manaudou of France broke Janet Evans’ 18-year-old world record in the 400-meter freestyle Friday, finishing in 4 minutes, 3.03 seconds at the French national championships.

Manaudou beat the time of 4:03.85 set by Evans in winning the 400 free at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The American won three golds as a 16-year-old at those Olympics and one at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Evans’ record was second-oldest world mark in the sport.

“I don’t really realize what I’ve done,” Manaudou said. “It’s when I see on television that I hold a world record that it becomes more emotional.”

Manaudou, who had competed in earlier events Friday, said she was inspired by media criticism.

“Because of that, I wanted to prove to the people who thought I couldn’t do it that I was capable,” she said.

Evans still holds the 800- and 1,500 free world records. The 1,500, in which she became the first woman to break 16 minutes on March 29, 1988, remains the sport’s oldest world record.

“I want to congratulate Laure on a fantastic swim,” Evans said Friday from her Los Angeles-area home. “I never felt that the record was mine, but that it belonged to all of the friends, family and coaches that helped me achieve it.”

Evans, 34, retired after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She is pregnant with her first child. She said she plans to congratulate Manaudou in person at next year’s world championships in Melbourne.

Manaudou won the 400 at the 2004 Athens Olympics for France’s first Olympic swimming gold in more than 50 years. She also won bronze in the 100-meter backstroke and silver in the 800-meter freestyle.

AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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