James Magnussen Defends 100 Free Title Against Loaded Field

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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. IT’s been a long two years for Australia’s James Magnussen, but he earned some much-needed redemption by defending his 100-meter free title this evening at the FINA World Championships.

After winning the 100 free world title in 2011 with 47.63, Australia’s new golden boy of sprint freestyle seemed to have developed a bit of a chip on his shoulder. So much so that reports had his own teammates rooting against him at the 2012 London Olympics, where USA’s Nathan Adrian dropped the hammer to capture the Olympic gold medal ahead of the favorite Magnussen.

This year, a much more humble Magnussen set his sights on reclaiming the mantel as the top sprinter in the world, while Adrian dealt with the extra pressure of being the favorite heading into the meet.

Tonight, Magnussen put together a sizzling time of 47.71 for the win, giving him a third gold medal at Worlds, having picked up wins in the 100 free and 400 free relay at the 2011 Shanghai championships. It wasn’t a jaw-dropping time, considering he owns the textile best with a 47.10 from last year, but it was enough to hold off a strong American 1-2 punch for gold.

USA’s Jimmy Feigen clipped teammate Adrian at the wall for silver, 47.82 to 47.84, to earn some added respect after suffering through the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay where he watched Jeremy Stravius power by him on the anchor leg for the gold medal. That’s Feigen’s first time under 48 seconds, while Adrian bettered his previous best time this week of 47.95 but couldn’t get his hand on the wall first.

Australia’s Cameron McEvoy (47.88), Russia’s Vlad Morozov (48.01), Brazil’s Marcelo Chierighini (48.28), France’s Fabien Gilot (48.33) and Italy’s Luca Dotto (48.58) also swam in the finale.

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