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Superman Magnussen hits kryptonite in relay
Grant Hackett
09:30 AEST Mon Jul 30 2012

Grant Hackett is a former Australian swimmer who won three Olympic gold medals, 10 world titles and joins Ray Warren and Giaan Rooney on the Olympic swimming commentary team.
 Grant Hackett

James Magnussen is the man we all thought was invincible. Every time he hit the pool he just seemed to get quicker, in fact we expected him to be challenging the 100m freestyle world record. But in leading off Australia's disappointing 4x100m freestyle relay final he showed a vulnerability that shocked us all.

Magnussen was clearly a shattered man after the final, he could barely string a together a sentence in response to what had happened. He has been rattled by this performance and now needs to regroup, surround himself with the people he trusts, take their advice and regain his focus for the individual 100m freestyle. He swam a 48.0 for his leg, which isn't really that bad, it's just not as great as we've all come to expect from him.

He started the final alright, with a strong first 50m, but the kick that we normally see from these great champions just wasn't there in the second 50m. We have become so used to him powering home into the wall and that was the strategy behind him swimming the first leg. He was to give Australia a lead and put clear water ahead of our other three swimmers. That didn't happen, but it's totally unfair to blame Magnussen for the result. There are four swimmers on a relay team and they each carry 25 percent of the responsibility for any result achieved.

If there is one positive to take from the relay, it's that Magnussen has been shown to be human and some of that unbeatable tag pressure has been eased. You only have to compare him to Michael Phelps who didn't medal in his first final at these Games either. Phelps swam 47.15 in the 4x100m relay final, showing that he has moved on and he will no doubt be right amongst the medals in the shorter events. I think Magnussen can also turn things around, as long as he can deal with his own disappointment.

It was a pity that our high expectations for the men's 4x100m relay were dashed, because it has taken the focus away from two brilliant Australian performances in the pool on day two. Christian Sprenger's swim in the 100m breaststroke was incredible. As he said to Giaan Rooney after the race, he put together the perfect swim. Unfortunately for him, South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh broke the world record in claiming the gold. I am really happy for Sprenger and very happy for the men's 4x100m medley relay, which will receive an enormous boost knowing they have such a strong breaststroke leg.

Alicia Coutts collected the bronze medal behind another world record breaking swim, this time from American Dana Vollmer. Coutts has a few more events to go, including the women's medley relay and that bronze will give her a lot of confidence going forward. Emily Seebohm qualified fastest in the women’s 100m backstroke, and she’ll be an important part of that relay team as well.

It was great to see Leisel Jones make it into the final of the women's 100m breaststroke, she has copped a totally unfair and unnecessary whack from a section of the media recently and she performed well and has herself in a strong position. She is a realistic chance of a medal, although the gold medal could be out of her reach. The young Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte is absolutely flying, racing without fear and reminds me a lot of Jones at the Sydney Olympics. She is going to be hard to beat, but Jones has been there before, is the defending champion and anything could happen.

Australia still has some real medal hopes, with plenty to look forward to. The relay teams will be strong, we have Stephanie Rice to swim in the 200m individual medley and hopefully the youngsters could throw up some surprises as well. There is also a guy by the name of James Magnussen in the 100m freestyle. You write champions off at your own peril, I don't think we have seen the end of "The Missile" at these Games.

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