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Magnussen: No Grudge Match With Cielo

Jul 17, 2012  - Craig Lord

Australian swimmers are among the first to engage in a round of media sessions in Britain as they prepare to move into the Olympic village in London this weekend. An official press conference with Australian swimmers will take place in London next Monday. In Manchester on their holding camp, James Magnussen and Leisel Jones were among those to meet the media. Here's what happened:

James Magnussen, the Missile on a 47.10 trajectory to "fastest ever in a textile suit" back in March over 100m free at Aussie trials, says he is relishing the prospect of battle with Cesar Cielo and others but that he wants nothing to do with 'grudge matches'. 

The 21-year-old says Cielo, the world 50m champion and 100m world record holder (46.91 in shiny suit in 2009) from Brazil, had been "pretty vocal" on the way to London 2012. So, too, of course, has Magnussen, a man rarely out of the headlines Down Under. In Manchester, the Missile said: "The way I feel is that the better the field is in London, the bigger the result if I'm able to win it, so I'm really glad to have Cesar there. Certainly it is not a grudge match at this point."

Seeking to avoid the kind of pre-meet sickness endured on the way to Shanghai 2011 world titles and again at Olympic trials this year, he sipped an olive-leaf extract designed to keep him healthy 10 days out from the Games. Speed of the uncharted-waters kind was his target. 

"This peak is going to be a lot higher than I've experienced before," said Magnussen. "I should definitely go quicker than the trials. Being 100 per cent healthy is a huge bonus and relief. There are massive ebbs and flows during the week of a big swimming meet. If I was to break the world record in the relay I don't see any reason why I couldn't keep up the energy and mental state to break it again in the individual."

If Cielo and others could stop him, so too could illness, Magnussen susceptible to chest infections of the kind he suffered back in March. No sign of trouble yet. "This is going to be exciting and different going in healthy," Magnussen said in between gulps of an olive leaf and probiotic drink "that the BodyScience people specially developed for me", the swimmer noted.

If Magnussen is the highest hope at the helm of the green and gold shoal, then Leisel Jones, defending the 100m breaststroke crown 12 years after a silver at a debut home Games in Sydney at 14, says she's in London to play "mother" to the "kids" on the team, even if her own medal hopes have to take a back seat.

"I just can't wait to see how they will perform," she said. "Yes, it's just been a really different role for me this year. I'm just really looking forward to taking on this role, a bit of a mother-hand role, looking after the younger kids."

Those include Magnussen. "I love him," said Jones. "I think he's brought so much personality to this team. He really made it quite vibrant and quite interesting. And I think he certainly has it, he's been training hard, he's been saying that he is out there doing it, so I think if he can pull it all together on the day, absolutely I think he can do it."

It was a view echoed by Magnussen's coach Brant Best: "He's a very confident boy, but over-confidence is not a problem. We work on channelling his confidence, so over-confidence is not an issue."

It never was for Jones, who is under less pressure now than ever before, she says: "There is no pressure at all. I've achieved everything I ever wanted to in this sport. This is pretty much the icing on the cake for me. I've achieved everything I wanted and four Olympics was definitely a challenge."