Australian James Magnussen will miss the World Swimming Championships in August due to impending left shoulder surgery, according to Australia’s swimming federation.
“We, as a team, have explored every possible avenue to allow me to compete, but unfortunately surgery is the only viable option if I am to be fit for the 2016 Rio Olympics,” Magnussen said in a press release. “I will now focus all my time and effort on preparing for the Olympics next year. I am looking forward to regaining full strength in my shoulder and getting back to my best performances.”
Magnussen, 24, was Australia’s biggest swimming star going into the London 2012 Olympics. He won the 2011 World Championships 100m but in London was beaten for gold by American Nathan Adrian by .01 of a second. That’s the closest an Australian man has come to winning an Olympic swimming gold medal since 2004.
Magnussen repeated as World champion in 2013, relegating Adrian to bronze.
At the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, Magnussen dropped to bronze behind Adrian and the gold medalist, Cameron McEvoy of Australia.
McEvoy, 21, then beat Magnussen again in the 100m free at the Australian Championships in April, firmly taking over as the top Australian men’s swimmer. McEvoy became the first Australian man to qualify for the World Championships in the 50m, 100m and 200m frees since 1998 (Michael Klim).
McEvoy is ranked No. 2 in the world this year in the 100m free, behind Russian Vladimir Morozov. Magnussen is No. 3, with Adrian tied for No. 27. The rankings are deceiving, because many nations had World Championships trials this year, requiring swimmers to taper and peak, while the U.S. team was determined last summer.
Magnussen’s absence will of course also hurt the Australians in the 4x100m free relay, an event they won over the U.S. at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships after finishing fourth at 2013 Worlds.