Swimming: Aussie ‘Missile’ Magnussen gets Olympic relay spot


SYDNEY, June 7, 2016 (BSS/AFP) – Two-time world champion James Magnussen was Tuesday added to the Australian team for the Rio Olympics, securing a place in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay after initially being omitted.

Magnussen, 25, missed out on the 34-strong squad announced in April after he failed to finish in the top two places in the 50m and 100m at the Australian swimming trials.

But he and fellow London Olympian James Roberts, 25, were named along with Games debutant Matt Abood, 29, after Australia’s spot in the relay event in Brazil was confirmed when the qualification period ended on May 31.

Magnussen, who was pipped by just one-hundredths of a second for the 100m freestyle gold medal in London, had shoulder surgery in 2015 and said he was feeling stronger by the week in the lead-up to Rio.

He finished fourth in the 100m freestyle at the Australian trials behind Cameron McEvoy, Kyle Chalmers and Roberts. Abood finished fifth.

“I’m really looking forward to contributing to this relay team to the best of my ability,” Magnussen said in a statement.

“I love swimming in relays and think this team has a lot of talent and potential.”

Magnussen, dubbed “The Missile”, and Roberts were part of the relay team which finished a disappointing fourth at the 2012 London Games.

But the team’s blistering swim at the national championships was the third fastest time in the past 18 months, behind only France and Russia.

Abood, who will be the oldest swimmer on the team, said travelling to Brazil would fulfill a life-long dream.

“I think I’ll be one of the oldest Olympic rookies in swimming ever,” he said.

The three new additions take Australia’s swimming team to 37. They took a team of 44 to the last Olympics.

The Rio relay is a chance of redemption for Magnussen, who boasted he was his own biggest competitor in the 100m freestyle in London — before losing out to America’s Nathan Adrian.

Magnussen was also in the 4x100m medley relay team which finished third in London, in what was a disappointing and controversial Games for the Australian swimming squad.

An official review later described a “toxic” culture in the squad, including problems with alcohol, prescription drugs, bullying and breaking curfews.