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Magnussen's biggest obstacle is himself
Liam FitzGibbon
22:36 AEST Mon Jul 23 2012

The man James Magnussen fears most in London is himself.

The 21-year-old is hot favourite to become Australia's first Olympic champion in the 100m freestyle since Michael Wenden in 1968 and, oozing trademark confidence, insisted on Monday the coveted title was his to lose.

Magnussen fronted the world's media in London and was repeatedly quizzed on his biggest rivals, notably Brazilian world record holder Cesar Cielo.

But while the world champion conveyed plenty of respect for all of his rivals including his biggest threat, compatriot James Roberts, he clearly thinks only a mental collapse can prevent him from winning.

"I think at this stage where I'm at with my preparations and my times at the moment, the biggest competitor here this week for me will be myself and my head space," Magnussen said.

"I feel like if I can overcome the pressures from back home that I know are there, I'm sure that I can better my results from last year at the world championships and get the job done."

Magnussen has good reason to be confident.

His 47.10 second swim at the Australian selection trials in March, the fastest ever swim in a textile suit, remains well ahead of the rest of the world with Roberts (47.63) the only other man to break 48 seconds this year.

Magnussen has made no secret he is chasing Cielo's world record of 46.91, set in a now-outlawed supersuit at the farcical 2009 world championships in Rome.

But he appeared to take a step away from that hype on Monday, insisting his only focus was on winning gold.

"I think if you want to leave a legacy in the sport that would start with Olympic gold and then a world record but I think at this stage the world record would just be a bonus," he said.

"It may not take a world record to win that race, or it may, but whatever the outcome, my only focus is gold."

Magnussen's first focus in London will be attempting to lead Australia's 4x100m freestyle relay team to a first Olympic title since the famous win in Sydney 2000.

He said he felt less pressure in the team event and was yet to decide if he would open his campaign with a "hit-out" heat swim in the relay on Sunday morning.

While Magnussen battled a bout of pneumonia prior to last year's world championships and a chest infection at trials, it's been smooth sailing in the lead-up to London.

Not so for Stephanie Rice, who has battled ongoing shoulder injuries and she revealed on Monday she had suffered another scare by tweaking her neck at training.

However she insists she will be as ready as she can for the 400m medley on the opening day of competition.

"It wouldn't be a high pressure preparation without something going a bit not to plan," she said.

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