The 4 X 100 freestyle relay in the early hours of Monday morning was seen as the best chance for a gold medal from the Australian male swimming team in the early stages of the competition. After qualifying fastest for the final there wasn’t much that was going to stand in their way.
Speaking with Nine Network after the heat swim on Sunday night (Australian time), James Magnussen was happy to state that not only did he have more in the tank, but the team would go faster in the finals session that night.
To the Australian public this reads as “We’ve got this one in the bag guys.”
The 4 X 100 is the one event I want us to win every four years. Since Gary Hall Jr stated the Americans were going to “Smash us like guitars” in Sydney, with Ian Thorpe ensuring that they did anything but, the drive to beat the Americans has never left.
After a disappointing finish leaving Australia in fourth position in the final, it was obvious that the team were distraught, yet the waiting public wanted a scapegoat and got one in the reigning world champion.
It seems that fans have already forgotten that Magnussen was one of four swimmers in the pool for us.
The purpose of having him swim first was so he could have a crack at the 100 freestyle World Record and while he wasn’t even close to reaching the mark, it seems as if this is the only thing that team management did right.
With Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts and Matt Targett rounding out the four, the biggest mistake that the team made was in fact made by the officials with the order of swimmers.
Magnusssen as the faster swimmer should have swum last, and I would have had Sullivan behind him and Roberts leading off.
The adrenaline kick from a relay is different to what is felt in an individual event and if Magnussen swum last he may have been able to put together a better leg in chasing down the American and French outfits.
Even if the four men in Green and Gold could have put together better individual efforts, it is unlikely that they would have beaten either the gold or silver medalists, who to their credit both swam fantastically planned and put together races.
Isn’t that the problem with Australia at the Olympics ? We only ever focus on what we could have done and assume everything else would have fallen into place and until this attitude changes we’re always going to look for someone to blame.