Australia’s Magnussen has unfinished Olympic business
GLASGOW – James Magnussen is still driven by the memory of his heartbreaking loss in the 100 metres freestyle final at the London Olympics and the Australian cannot wait to “set things straight” in Rio later this year.
Twice a world champion in the blue riband sprint, Magnussen had to endure the sometimes savage fall-out from Australia’s miserable campaign in London and more recently the hard yards of recovery from back and shoulder injuries.
However, it is the pain of being pipped to Olympic gold by the length of American Nathan Adrian’s fingertip in the London pool that has most sustained the 24-year-old.
“That’s kept me going for four years,” he told reporters in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Olympic trials.
“I felt like from the moment I finished that race in London that it was unfinished business and that I’d be back again to set things straight and that’s what I’ve been working towards and it really does drive me quite strongly.
“It’s what I use for motivation every day.”Motivation might not be enough to snare one of the two 100 freestyle spots on the Australian team for Rio in what looks likely to be a highly competitive event at the April 7-14 trials.
Cameron McEvoy has the best time in the world this year after swimming 47.56 seconds in Perth in February, while 17-year-old Kyle Chalmers (48.68) has also clocked a faster time than Magnussen’s best of 2016, 49.22.
Magnussen’s personal best remains the 47.10 he achieved ahead of the London Olympics, however, and he feels he is back on course physically for the run-in to Rio after missing a big chunk of 2015 following shoulder surgery.
“I’ll be swimming my own race. Cameron McEvoy, I’d say, is my main competition so I will focus pretty heavily on him,” he added. “Three into two, so it’s going to be tough but I’m feeling good and I’m not really worrying about who else is in that race.”
Magnussen’s London disappointment – the 4×100 metres relay team he anchored finished fourth – was compounded by his comments in the run-up to the Games, when he told anyone who would listen that he was going to come home with a gold medal.
Four years older, Magnussen feels he is better equipped to avoid such hubris. “I think going into the last Olympics, it was the first time in my life I’d been in the spotlight,” he said. “All I knew was that I could swim fast and I was backing my ability. If someone asked me if I was going to win, I gave them an honest answer.” -Reuters