Just who is James Magnussen?

New swimming sprint king James Magnussen has set his sights on Cesar Cielo’s “supersuit'” world record after completing his remarkable rise with the 100m freestyle world title.

James Magnussen, 20, became the first Australian man to win swimming’s glamour event at a world championships on Thursday, putting himself in pole position to become the first Aussie to claim the Olympic 100m freestyle title since Michael Wenden in 1968.

The Port Macquarie swimmer was hot favourite for the final, and he did not disappoint.

Fifth at halfway, he produced his trademark strong finish to clock 47.63 seconds, ahead of Brent Hayden of Canada (47.95) and France’s William Meynard (48.00).

Controversial Brazilian Cielo (48.01) was fourth in a quality final.

Magnussen’s performances in Shanghai – he previously recorded the fastest 100m swim in a textile suit when clocking 47.49sec in leading out Australia’s gold medal-winning 4x100m freestyle team on Sunday – have “the Missle” targeting Brazilian Cielo’s world mark of 46.91sec set in a polyurethane suit at the farcical 2009 world titles in Rome.

Only last year, Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Eamon Sullivan predicted some sprint records from the controversial supersuit era might stand forever.

But Magnussen believes he can better Cielo’s mark.

“I think if anybody had have even mentioned that world record coming into this event, people would have laughed,” Magnussen said.

“But after that relay split the other night, I think it’s made that record look a lot more human.

“Whether that be next year or leading towards Rio, I think it’s certainly something I can set my sights on further down the track.

“And I’ve obviously got a lot of improvement to go.

“I was the youngest in the field tonight so the sky’s the limit in terms of world records and possibilities in the 100 freestyle.”

Magnussen’s triumph capped his rapid transformation from quietly-spoken country boy and relay swimmer to a competitor, described by Australia’s team coach, Leigh Nugent, as a “battleship” who could “bury his opponents”.

Magnussen said he was inspired by Australia’s sprinters who had stood on the blocks before him, notably the Ian Thorpe-led relay team that won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“Tonight was just a really proud moment,” he said.

“Australian men’s swimming has been in a bit of a rut of late, sprinting in particular.

“I know this is a big deal back in Australia, and it’s a great moment for Australian swimming.”

 Who is James Magnussen?

Age: 20
Born: April 11, 1991, Port Macquarie, NSW
Resides: Sydney
Height: 195cm
Weight: 90kg
Coach: Brant Best

Previous career highlights:

  • Swam lead-out leg in the gold medal-winning 4x100m freestyle relay team at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai.
  • Won the 100m freestyle at the 2011 Australian championships for his first national title.
  • Won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, swimming the anchor leg at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
  • Won bronze in the 100m freestyle at the 2010 Australian championships to earn selection on his first senior Australian team for the 2010 Pan Pacs.
  • Swam anchor leg of the silver medal-winning 4x100m freestyle relay team at the 2010 Pan Pacs.

by Buford Balony


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