SYDNEY (AFP) –
Australian world champion James Magnussen admitted on Sunday he had made mistakes at this year’s London Olympics but added that his failure to win a gold medal had made him stronger.
In his first public comments since the Games, Magnussen said in hindsight there were many things he would do differently after claiming silver in the 100m freestyle final and missing out on a medal in the sprint relay.
The 20-year-old also admitted mistakes amid claims of misbehaviour involving him and his 4x100m freestyle relay teammates at their training camp in Manchester two days before the team went to London.
The claims included swimmers upsetting teammates and coaches by prank calling and knocking on their doors late at night.
“We learned things at those Olympics. I learned things and there are things I’d do differently looking back on it,” he told the Nine television network.
Magnussen said he was mainly happy with his behaviour at the Games but believed he took a naive approach into the biggest event of his career.
He admitted his actions during the failed relay — when a shattered Magnussen sat slumped in his chair while his teammates were still racing — were not a great look but put it down to shock.
The world champion sprint team of Magnussen, James Roberts, Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett were favourites to claim gold but finished out of the medals in fourth place.
“At the time, my world had just changed in a heartbeat in front of the whole world and it was a whirlwind inside my head,” he said of his below-par opening leg swim.
“I can barely remember the swim itself let alone what happened after.
“As far as it being a bad look, it may have been and if I had my time again I’d do it differently but hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Magnussen said it was important for the freestyle relay team to bond as a group.
“I think one thing people need to understand is as a relay team we’re often from different parts of Australia, different states, and for the best part of the year we’re (rival) competitors,” Magnussen said.
“So it is important for us to try and get a sense of team and try and bond.
“Obviously there were some mistakes made. As to the full events that occurred on that night, there’s a review by Swimming Australia, all of that will come out.”
Magnussen said he was in training for next year’s world championships in Barcelona.
“As a result of that failure — well, I say failure but I still got a silver medal which I’m very proud of — at the Olympics my coach and I are ready for anything now.”
Australian swimming is undergoing an independent review, including looking into reports of pranks and ill-discipline, after winning just one gold medal, six silver and three bronze in London — its lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona 1992.