The Missile has crashed. But James Magnussen isn’t treating his latest disappointment as a disaster.
Australia’s fastest man of the year over one lap of the pool didn’t give himself much of a chance of winning a medal in the splash and dash tonight.
Just as well because Magnussen failed to qualify for the final of the 50m freestyle at the London 2012 aquatic centre.
However, Australia retains hope of a medal in the sprint with WA’s Eamon Sullivan advancing to another Olympic medal round in 21.88sec.
In the same semifinal Magnussen posted 22.00s to be 11th on the summary board. American Cullen Jones and defending Olympic champion Cesar Cielo from Brazil dead-heated to be the fastest qualifiers in 21.54s.
The Australian public put their faith in Magnussen to deliver gold in London but he has missed out at three opportunities at these Games.
He took silver in the 100m freestyle last night, cruelly denied the gold by 0.01s and American Nathan Adrian, but the Missile bombed in the 4 x 100m freestyle on Sunday when the Dolphins finished fourth.
Yet he was never aiming for greatness in the 50m freestyle despite posting the sixth best time of the year – 21.74s – at the national trials.
“I didn’t put any expectations on myself. This is the first year I have even done a half-decent one,” Magnussen said immediately after the swim.
“It was a little bit rusty but a little bit to be expected,” Magnussen said immediately after the race. “I just wanted to go out there and have fun with it and lap up the crowd.
“It has been a stressful week so it was good to have a swim where I relaxed and enjoyed it.
“I couldn’t sleep last night. I was stewing over it (100m). I’m pretty much mentally exhausted and physical not far behind.”
Like Sullivan in the heats earlier in the day, Magnussen believed his race was over a split second the gun sounded.
The 21-year-old had the third slowest reaction time (0.71s) off the blocks and from that moment he was never in the hunt for a time to advance him to the final.
“It was the start. I was next to Cullen. He got the jump on me and form there I was chasing him,” Magnussen said .
“If you’re behind ta the start in the 50 there is a good chance you’re not getting back in front.”
The product of Port Macquarie has a last chance to claim the elusive London 2012 gold medal.
He will swim the freestyle leg in the final of the 4 x 100m medley on Saturday night.
“I have a day’s rest to recuperate and then have the medley relay so I’m looking forward to that,” Magnussen said.
“We’re a good chance in the relay, Christian (Sprenger, breaststroke) was really strong earlier in the week and Hayden Stoeckel (backstroke) is back to his best and hopefully Chris Wright (butterfly) can go well tonight so it is exciting.”