James Magnussen, Australia’s biggest swimming star going into the 2012 Olympics, has retired at age 28 after slowing down considerably in recent years following 2015 shoulder surgery.
“I have taken the time to make the best decision for myself moving forward and to do that I wanted to make sure I was in the best space mentally and physically before announcing my retirement,” he said in a press release. “I could have swum at another Olympic Games, but with the lofty standards I have held myself to over the years and the high expectations I have, I believe now is the right time to step away from the sport.”
Magnussen, nicknamed “The Missile,” was world champion in the sport’s marquee event, the 100m freestyle, in 2011 and 2013. However, he was edged for gold at the London Olympics by .01 by Nathan Adrian.
Magnussen was part of an overall disappointing 2012 Games for the Australian swim team, which came home with one relay gold. Magnussen led off the Aussie men’s 4x100m free team that finished fourth, one year after winning the world title.
He came back from shoulder surgery to make the Rio 2016 team as a relay-only swimmer, helping Australia to bronze. Magnussen missed the 2017 Worlds and 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. His only major international meet since Rio was the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he was sixth in the 50m free and part of a gold-medal freestyle relay.
He was surpassed in the sprints in the last Olympic cycle by Cameron McEvoy, the 2015 World silver medalist in the 100m free, and then surprise Rio Olympic 100m free champ Kyle Chalmers.
He still owns the second-fastest 100m freestyle in history aside from the high-tech suit era, a 47.10 from the 2012 Olympic Trials bettered only by McEvoy’s 47.04 at the 2016 Olympic Trials.
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