Matt Abood will make his long awaited Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games after three more swimmers were added to the 2016 Australian Olympic Team today.
Abood and London Olympians James Roberts and James Magnussen have been selected in the men’s 4x100m men’s freestyle relay after FINA confirmed Australia’s quota spot in the event.
The trio, who finished third, fourth and fifth in the 100m freestyle at the trials in April, have had to wait for confirmation of the relay quota spot after the Australian men missed the top 12 ranking at the World Championships.
The qualification period ended on 31 May and their relay swim of 3:12.26 minutes at the trials has them ranked third in the world over 2015-16 and ready to perform at Rio 2016 in August. The only two countries to have swum faster in the past 18 months were Italy (3:10.74) and Russia (3:11.19) at the 2015 World Championships.
For Abood, who was fifth at the trials, the Games represent the realisation of a lifelong dream. He turns 30 in a few weeks and will be the sixth oldest Australian swimmer at an Olympics.
“I’m not exactly sure how I will feel come the time to walk into the village wearing the green and gold,” Abood said. “But I am sure when that time comes I’ll take a quiet moment for myself to soak it up and enjoy the moment.”
“I think I’ll be one of the oldest Olympic rookies in swimming ever so no doubt there will be many new experiences.
“I haven’t asked any of the Olympians on the team for any advice in particular, we are very lucky that we have a good mix of youth, debutants and experienced athletes and staff on the Team.”
Abood grew up in Sydney but moved to Canberra to train under a new coach mid-way through last year.
“The move to Canberra was a fantastic experience for me, it was a chance to work with an excellent coach in Shannon Rollason and provided a new stimulus, mentally and physically through training.”
Abood won’t be making his Olympic debut solo, with his family travelling to Brazil to wave the Aussie flag.
“My wife will be traveling to Rio with my Mum and Dad, I’m really looking forward to them enjoying the Olympic experience as well, having the opportunity to share with them what we’ve all worked so hard for.”
Magnussen, who won individual silver four years ago in the 100m freestyle by 0.01 seconds, had surgery on his shoulder in 2015 which caused him to miss the World Championships. He then went on to finish fourth in the 100m freestyle at the Championships, with Cameron McEvoy in first, young gun Kyle Chalmers second and Roberts third.
Magnussen, who has been in Colorado at a training camp for the past few weeks, competed in California at the US Swim Series in Santa Clara at the weekend. He said his shoulder is continually improving.
“I’m really looking forward to contributing to this relay team to the best of my ability,” Magnussen said.
“My shoulder is continuing to feel stronger by the week and I am currently spending time overseas training and racing in preparation for Rio. I love swimming in relays and think this team has a lot of talent and potential.”
London 2012 teammate Roberts has also struggled with shoulder problems over the past couple of years.
“I had two major shoulder reconstructions, the right in October 2014 and the left in February 2015. I had around nine months out of the water and was back swimming in August. I have also had to manage a chronic lower back injury over the past few years,” he said.
For Roberts it was a relief to have official confirmation he’s off to his second Games.
“I guess it was a little nerve racking waiting for official confirmation. It was a different situation for us having to qualify the relay at the end of trials, but we were confident with the time we had posted. It was just a matter of time really.
“I cannot explain the feeling when I looked up to see I had placed third. It was mainly relief. I guess I was a little surprised with the result and to post my second fastest 100m time ever after my surgeries.
“It was extra special to share the moment with my girlfriend who had seen my struggles over the past few years, and my coach Ashley Callus who has also been my friend and mentor throughout my swimming career.”
Roberts, who finished fourth in the relay alongside Magnussen at the Games four years ago, said there is a lot of hard work to be done in the next 60 days.
“We are in a good position but still have a big job ahead of us. It is a strong team and I am looking forward to swimming alongside the other boys and representing Australia.”
These three additions take the Swimming Section of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 35 and the Team overall to 155, with more than 400 athletes expected.
The Australian Olympic Committee contributed this report.