The wait is finally getting over. And as the swimmers prepare to hold centrestage during the first week of the 2012 London Olympic Games, it is certain that the competitions are bound to throw up a host of high-voltage contests across several events, leading to some close finishes and unpredictable results.
One such event is the men’s 100m freestyle, the final of which is scheduled to be held on August 1.
The two-lap race has gained special significance this time around due to the three-way-contest that could develop between Aussies James Magnussen and James Roberts and the powerful Brazilian world record-holder, Cesar Cielo.
The 21-year-old Magnussen, who in Shanghai last year became the first Australian to win the Blue Riband event for the first time in a world championship after Michael Wenden in 1968, is in fact looked upon to shore up the Aussie campaign at the Games, having recorded the leading time of the year and the fourth fastest of all-time at 47.10 seconds.
With Roberts having turning in an equally superb time of 47.63s, also at the Australian Olympic trials, it would seem the Aussies are poised for a 1-2 finish in the event.
But then, that could take a beating if Cielo, the world record-holder at 46.91s (and set wearing the now banned buoyancy suit), finds the wonted form in London.
The Brazilian, who tested positive for drug abuse last year but was exonerated later, is yet to touch peak form this year and should be mostly concentrating on the 50m freestyle prior to turning his attention to the 100m.
Cielo’s best time of the year is a comparatively poor mark of 48.28s, but given his vast experience there would be many who would wait until the last moment before writing him off.
Besides the trio, there could be others too who would be eyeing a top podium finish.
This includes the Shanghai silver-medallist Brent Hayden (Canada), the French duo of William Magnard and Fabein Gilot and Nathan Adrian (USA), not to forget Nikita Lobintsev (Russia).
An early guide to the eventual outcome of the August 1 final could be had when the swimmers go through the initial heats on July 31.
But one thing is for sure: the two-lap race is going to be a humdinger of a contest.
Keywords: 2012 London Olympics