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Magnussen's was the unluckiest silver of all
Giaan Rooney
11:00 AEST Thu Aug 2 2012

Giaan Rooney One of Australia's Olympic golden girls, Rooney will return to the pool to cover all the aquatic action from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Giaan Rooney

We like to think that luck plays no part in sport, but after watching James Magnussen's painful second in the 100m freestyle final it's hard to argue that he wasn't extremely unlucky. With the naked eye it actually looked like Magnussen reached the wall first, but American Nathan Adrian had more momentum going into the wall and affected a firmer touch, putting more pressure on the touch pad and winning by the smallest measurable margin.

It is the cruellest margin in sport, if it went the other way Magnussen would be hailed a national hero today.

Back before touch pad technology it would have been a decision left to several judges peering over the edge of the pool. They could have ruled either way or they could have decided it was a tie. The great thing about the touch pad system we use today is that no one has any reason to question it.

When I spoke to Magnussen immediately after his silver medal he was understandably absolutely shattered. To give him credit, he has learnt a lot about himself in the last few days and he handled the situation brilliantly. He came in for a fair bit of criticism for his reaction after the relay loss, but he has since learnt how to handle the pressure and disappointment and generally how to handle life not going the way he anticipated it would.

He spoke about the support he has received and he said he would not have changed a thing about his preparation. He has done himself, his family and his country so proud.

He still has the 50m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay events remaining. He is a 100m specialist and his true strength is in the second 50m of that distance. He'll be up against some real speedsters who specialise in that mad 50m dash down the pool. I won't write him off though, as the silver medal in the 100m might just get him angry and fired up for a big effort. I'm sure he will contribute to the medley relay and they are solid medal hopes as well.

I don't want to jinx the rest of the Australian effort when it comes to gold medals, but I'm really excited to see how Melanie Schlanger goes in the 100m final. She qualified second fastest and then backed up to swim the second leg of the 4x200m freestyle final. What impressed me with that effort was that she swam a brilliant time in that relay, which means she not only has the fitness and the finish to swim 200m, but that will also equate to a strong final 25m of her 100m final.

The women's 4x100m medley relay sees Australia in with a good chance of another medal, but I can't see how they will beat the USA for the gold medal. The American team has world beaters right across all four strokes. They have Missy Franklin for backstroke, Rebecca Soni who won silver in the 100m breaststroke and broke the world record in winning the 200m breaststroke. They have Dana Vollmer, who broke the world record in winning the 100m butterfly and plenty of contenders for the freestyle leg. The Australians are tough contenders and as we have seen so far in these Games, the favourites don't always win the big races.

There is still plenty of racing remaining in the pool, and there could be any number of surprises. I said before the Games that Australia really only had a few gold medal favourites on paper. The 4x100m men's relay and James Magnussen's 100m freestyle were two that we pencilled in for gold, so from that perspective it has been disappointing, but we never expected the women to win the 4x100m freestyle relay. You take the good with the bad and look at it as a good wake-up call for Australian sport in general. Australia doesn't have it all our own way anymore, the rest of the world has caught up and they are spending way more money on achieving success.

The Chinese poured millions into their junior development schemes before Beijing. They have spent a lot of money since, ensuring their athletes have the best coaches in the world. They are really starting to see the benefits of those programs now in London.

A young swimmer like Ye Shiwen has been unfairly questioned in regards to whether she has taken drugs to improve her performance. She has been identified in a country of over a billion people as having talent in the pool, they have given her the best coaches in the world and she has worked hard and dedicated herself to the sport. You see a freak athlete like Michael Phelps breaking the all-time Olympic medal tally record and no one has ever questioned whether he is a drug cheat. When someone performs so well in swimming, sometimes we just have to accept that they could just be a freakish athlete performing at their absolute best.

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