LONDON (AFP) –
Australian James Magnussen vowed Tuesday to fight for Olympic redemption as he notched the fourth-fastest time in the men’s 100m freestyle heats.
World champion Magnussen admitted he was still trying to regain his composure in the wake of Australia’s flop in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
“It has been a tough couple of days,” admitted Magnussen, whose world-leading 47.10 made him the hot favorite in the 100m free before the demoralizing relay debacle.
“A lot of my competitiors have never seen me lose.
“They probably think they can beat me, but I am going to fight for this one.”
The heats of the prestige sprint led off a day highlighted by 14-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps‘ bid for another slice of Olympic history in the 200m butterfly final.
Phelps, shockingly out of the medals in the 400m medley on Saturday, will try to become the first man to win the same event in three straight Games in an event he’s dominated for a decade.
He’s also slated to swim the 4x200m freestyle relay final, which the US go into as the top seeds after edging France in the heats.
With two medals of any color, Phelps can surpass Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record career total of 18 Olympic medals.
Other finals on tap include the women’s 200m freestyle and the women’s 200m medley, in which Chinese teenager Ye Shiwen will try to add the title to the 400m medley gold she won with a blazing freestyle finish — only to spark a swirl of doping speculation.
In the morning, however, the eyes were on the 100m free men.
American Nathan Adrian led the way into the semi-finals in 48.19sec.
South African Gideon Lou was second-fastest in 48.29 followed by Sebastiaan Verschuren of the Netherlands (48.37) and Magnussen (48.38).
World record-holder Cesar Cielo of Brazil advanced safely, as did Yannick Agnel — who anchored France in their upset triumph over the United States in the 4x100m free then posted a dominant victory in the 200m freestyle.
Agnel and Roberts were tied for the 12th-fastest time of 48.93.
“It felt a little heavy, actually,” said Cielo, who won 50m free gold and 100m free bronze in Beijing four years ago.
“The very first swim is tough. Hopefully tonight I’m going to bring some heat and I’ll swim better to make the final.”
Japanese veteran Kosuke Kitajima was also trying to bounce back from disappointment in the 100m breaststroke, posting the fifth-fastest time in the 200m breaststroke heats led by Hungarian Daniel Gyurta.
Kitajima won both events at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, but failed to medal in the 100m.
“I feel better in the 200m than the 100m,” Kitajima said, looking forward to the semi-finals. “I am just taking it stroke by stroke.”
American Kathleen Hersey led the way into the semi-finals of the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:06.41.
China’s Jiao Liuyang, silver medallist in Beijing and the 2011 world champion, was second-fastest in 2:07.15 ahead of Britain’s Jemma Lowe (2:07.64).
Poland’s Otylia Jedrzejczak, the 2004 Athens gold medallist, nabbed the 16th and final semi-final berth.