Shattered Australia try to shrug off Olympic relay blow

Swimming powerhouses Australia were looking to regroup after the shattering blow of the James Magnussen-led team bombing out of the medals in the 100m freestyle relay at the London Olympics.

The Australians had been banking on world champion Magnussen leading the way to victory, yet the relay team spectacularly imploded when the pressure was on in the final, won by France over the defending champions United States.

Magnussen and James Roberts came to the Olympics as the two fastest 100m swimmers along with former world record holder Eamon Sullivan and top-ten sprinter Matt Targett.

But when the crunch was on the Aussies went missing, raising doubts about the men's team's ability to make an impact in the remaining swimming finals at the London Olympics.

Significantly, the two top-rated sprinters, Magnussen (48.03) and Roberts (48.09), put in the slowest split times of the Australian team.

Magnussen looked a shattered man, photographed with his head in his hands on the pool deck moments after Frenchman Yannick Agnel touched out American Ryan Lochte to clinch relay gold.

"Words can't describe how I feel," Magnussen said. "I don't know what went wrong. I felt like I was going really well into that race.

"I did a 47.3s in the morning and it's the easiest swim I've done in months. I just couldn't back up in the final, maybe it (heat swim) just took a bit out of the tank.

"Obviously (I'm) bloody really disappointed, but it happens.

"That's my first big disappointment at international level and I have to regroup from there and try and back up tomorrow (Tuesday's 100m freestyle)."

Much was centred on Magnussen's anticipated success at the Olympics but the relay team's inability to medal may have lasting repercussions for the Australian men in London.

Australian head coach Leigh Nugent has told Magnussen to "get over it" and move on.

"They just have to get over it and get on with it," Nugent said. "The weight of expectation just might have overpowered them.

"Anyone competing at this level in sport, if they can't overcome the disappointments, they probably haven't got what it takes in the long run."

The stunning loss comes after Australia's women won their 100m freestyle relay on Saturday, and the men are looking for a gold medal which eluded them in the pool at the 2008 Beijing Games.

"I think more than anything one race doesn't decide your fate for the rest of the meet," Sullivan said.

"Everyone has a bad day and unfortunately James (Magnussen) had, still not a horrible day, but just a bad day in his expectations.

"He has one day to relax and get himself together for that 100m and work his way through it. You move on."


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.

Latest News