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London Day Two: Go fourth

Submitted by rickeyre on July 30, 2012 - 3:24pm

Just like any true Weapons of Mass Destruction, Australia's proved to be non-existent.

The final of the men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay at the London Aquatic Centre on Sunday night was being built up as one of the great clashes of the Games. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte along with Nathan Adrien and Cullen Jones for Team USA pitted against Australia's quarter of Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts and of course leading man James Magnussen.

The Aussies needed a name, of course, but Awesome Foursome had already been used. Hey, these guys are going to totally obliterate the opposition. Just like Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Australia versus USA. Some of the greatest freestyle swimmers of the modern era. And the winner was:


A truly memorable final leg in Yannick Agnel overhauled Lochte and took the gold for France (along with Amaury Leveaux, Fabien Gilot and Clement Lefert) with a time of 3:09.93, all of 0.45 seconds ahead of the United States.

And in third place? Why, hello Russia. Australia, despite finishing in front of South Africa, Germany, Italy and Belgium, missed out on on not just the gold medals that were So Rightly Theirs, but on any medals at all.

Never has there been more shock, dismay, disappointment and outrage displayed by a nation on Twitter at 6am on a Monday morning. Did one of Australia's most infamous shock jocks really describe it as "Australia's biggest disaster since Gallipoli"? Even suggestions that it was merely Australia's greatest-ever swimming calamity were being countered with two words: Harold Holt.

If I had some proper Twitter monitoring tools I could show how the word "shock" permeated the Australian conversation from about 6am, to be gradually replaced by "Failure" as the sun came up an hour later. If there's a highlight for me from watching the morning post-mortems on Channel Nine, it was to see Cameron Williams reverentially and apologetically interviewing Matthew Targett as if the poor lad had just lost a close relative. The same Channel Nine, incidentally, that cut away from the medal ceremony for the race just before the playing of La Marsellaise.

This was the fourth best team in the world in one of the greatest finishes of an Olympic relay that I have seen. Congratulations to France, who are fully deserving of all the glory and attention that will come their way (at least outside Australia and the USA).

Here's the official results of the men's 4x100 metre freestyle relay. Reports on the race from NBC, Telegraph (UK) and (in French) Liberation, while the Sydney Morning Herald tells us that "James Magnussen's Olympic campaign is in tatters".

Meanwhile, the Inner-West Courier gives local resident Magnussen's performance a brief mention in their daily wrap on inner-westie Olympians.

My Youtube do Dia comes from the Official Supermarket of the Australian Olympic Team. Coles have done some ghastly ads in recent months featuring aging rockers such as Status Quo and Normie Rowe, but this "field of dreams" one-minute ad, which has nothing to do with the advertiser's product, is a wonderful piece of film-making...

...but beware: there are parodies.