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London Day Six: Great expectations

Raelene Boyle. Frank Beaurepaire. Sam Riley. John Sumegi. Kevan Gosper. Ric Charlesworth. Lauren Jackson. And many more great Australian sportspeople whose greatest honour at the Olympic Games was the silver medal. Add James Magnussen to that list. For now at least.

Arguably the most hyped swimmer in Australian Olympic history, he comes away from London 2012 with one silver medal, finishing 0.01 second behind Nathan Adrian in the 100m freestyle. As part of the 4x100 freestyle team, he came fourth. In the 50 metres freestyle, he failed to qualify for the final.

Failure? No. Disappointment? Only if you set the expectations too high. That absurd advertising alliteration "Go for gold" has a lot to answer for. There's no shame in Striving for Silver. Magnussen, of course, has every chance of being back for Rio 2016.

With two days to go in the swimming competition, the Australian team has certainly failed to achieve its self-imposed lofty targets, with just that one gold medal in the women's 4x100 free back on Saturday. But perspective: only in the last three Games has Australia enjoyed repeated multiple success at gold medal level in the pool (5 in Sydney, 7 in Athens, 6 in Beijing). At each of Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona we scored one solitary swimming gold, doubling that number at Atlanta.

And our swimmers have been beaten by some bloody good opposition. Australia cannot win all the time. It's not like the Commonwealth Games where we customarily bash up all comers.

Speaking of high standards in swimming, the men's 200 metres IM on Thursday night: Lochte v Phelps. Not time for the changing of the guard just yet, with Le Phelpemero taking his 16th career Olympic gold and an utterly unprecedented twentieth medal. He's something special.

But if only Frank Beaurepaire had similar opportunities to Michael Phelps. His three silver medals spanned a sixteen year period: London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924, when he was 33 years old. He missed Stockholm 1912 because he was classified as a "professional" (because he had earned a living for a while as a swimming instructor). He was reinstated as an amateur soon after, but war precluded any hope of Olympics in 1916.

We know for sure that Phelps' Olympic swimming career won't span sixteen years like Beaurepaire's...

Let's do some irony overload for today's Youtube do Dia: Jimmy Barnes performing Cold Chisel's "Ain't No Second Prize" on AFL Grand Final Day at the MCG in 2009: