Magnussen moves on after sleepless night

Last updated 00:58 03/08/2012

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Just getting out of bed was an effort for James Magnussen today as the 'missile' of Australian Olympic swimming struggled to move on from the pain of the night before.

"If I'm being totally honest, the last thing I wanted to do this morning was get up and swim again," he told reporters on his return to the pool after missing out on 100 metres freestyle gold by 0.01 of a second.

In that split second everything changed for the Australian, who had promised to deliver his country's first gold in the blue riband sprint event for 44 years - maybe even with a world record time as well.

It also left Australian swimmers, facing their worst performance in 20 years while their American rivals stand out, under increasing criticism from a media that had expected so much more.

Magnussen had, by his own admission, felt bullet-proof and unbeatable coming into the Games.

The first hint that something was amiss came in the 4x100 freestyle relay, where he swum a disappointing lead-off leg and Australia finished fourth, and Wednesday night's race marked a watershed.

It was, as his coach had said after the relay, a pretty tough time to learn that he was human.

After a sleepless night thinking about what had happened, he got over the mental hurdle and said it was now time to recalibrate and reassess.

"I just want to relax and enjoy this one for what it is. It's an Olympics and I want to have some fond memories of it," he said after his 50-metres heat.

"I'm my own toughest critic and I don't think I've really had a chance to come to grips with it yet," he said.

"I don't think I ever want to watch that race. Ever.

"It's a funny thing but all I wanted to do after the race was over was see my parents. You start to get a realisation of what's important."

The Olympics have been Magnussen's first major setback since he burst onto the world stage with gold at the 2011 Shanghai world championships.

He won the national trials with the fastest time of the year and was the clear favourite for the gold that American Nathan Adrian snatched by the slimmest of margins.

That one hundredth of a second effectively translated into a four year wait for another chance, by which time another challenger may have emerged.

"Everything's come so easy for me in my early career and I think I've taken it a little for granted," said the Australian, in reflective mood.

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"I think it was an important part of my life, that race last night. Now I'm going to regroup and let the fire burn for a few years and hopefully go on to do some bigger and better things."

- Reuters

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