PORT Macquarie’s James Magnussen heads into Sunday’s Olympic trials as the heavy favourite.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The man dubbed the Missile spoke exclusively with the Port News ahead of the 2012 EnergyAustralia Swimming Championships in Adelaide.
He will contest both the 100m and 50m freestyle disciplines. Rather than a burden, he says the “favourite” tag will work in his favour when he tries to secure a maiden Australian Olympic Games’ team berth.
“It has helped a bit with confidence more than anything,” he said. “I only have to worry about my own performance now.
“I don’t have to worry about everyone else in the pool with me.
“I think if anything it works in my favour that way.”
And help with his confidence it has.
At a press conference this week, he revealed he wanted to do a time quicker than the 47.49 that scored him a gold medal in the world titles in China in 2011.
“I think anything better than the time at the world champs last year would be pretty imposing,”?he said. “Anywhere down to around 47.2s is realistic, and would send out pretty strong warning signs to the rest of the world.”
Despite being only days away from arguably one of the biggest races of his life, the 20-year-old said he was surprisingly relaxed.
He said an ideal lead-up had helped keep him calm.
“My preparation has been as good as any,” he said. “It has been really smooth and, at the moment, I have just been sailing through everything.
“Training has just slowly been tapering off over the past few weeks and I’m feeling really good.”
Magnussen, the 2010 Newcastle Permanent Hastings Sportsperson of the Year, said he would use the same techniques he used during his successful world titles campaign eight months ago.
“I’m okay now as far as nerves go, but it’s still a couple of days out,” he said.
“When it gets a little closer, I’m just going to do what I did at the titles – stay calm and keep a level head. That’s all you can do.”
Magnussen will be joined at the SA?Aquatic and Leisure Centre in Adelaide by his family, who left Port Macquarie earlier in the week to watch him attempt to swim his way on to the Olympic team.
The heats for the 100m freestyle begin on Sunday, followed by the semi-finals later that night.
The finals take place on Monday.
The 50m freestyle heats will be contested on Tuesday and the finals on Wednesday.