Nick D'Arcy turns to look at his time in his 200m butterfly semi-final at the London Olympics. He failed to make the final. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Someone has knocked out Nick D'Arcy. The controversial swimmer's Olympics is over barely 12 hours after it began, eliminated in the semi-finals of the race he had spent five years fighting to be allowed to swim.
It's pretty raw. Because it is fresh I haven't had time to digest it, it will probably take a bit of getting over but that is just the way it turns out.
Ultimately successful in his bruising journey to compete at an Olympics - from the day he was first selected in the Australian team for the 2008 Beijing Games to diving in to the pool in the 200m butterfly heats in London - D'Arcy failed to make an impact after he was eliminated following a sixth-place finish in his semi-final.
The Pool - Day 3
Leisel Jones swims the women's 100m breaststroke final. Photo by Brendan Esposito
The most polarising figure in swimming - indeed one of the most controversial figures currently in Australian sport - D'Arcy will now be put on a plane and sent home from England early, at the end of the swimming meeting.
"It's pretty raw," D'Arcy said. "Because it is fresh, I haven't had time to digest it. It will probably take a bit of getting over, but that is just the way it turns out.
"It's difficult to put into words [the disappointment after the journey to get to the Olympics]. I have got my girlfriend here, I have got one of my good mates, my uncle, my mum and dad, all these friends and family here, and I was looking forward to making the final for them and putting on a bit of a show. But unfortunately that is not going to happen.
Nick D'Arcy walks from the pooldeck after bowing out of the men's 200m butterfly in the semi-finals.
"It's a tremendous feeling of pride being able to be part of the team and stand up there to represent your country. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and especially having all those friends and family in the stands. I just am disappointed I couldn't do a better job for everyone cheering back home."
D'Arcy said he was disappointed but accepting of the fact he will have to leave the Games early. That punishment was imposed by the Australian Olympic Committee after he and fellow swimmer Kenrick Monk posted photographs of themselves posing with guns in a US shop on Facebook.
"It is going to be difficult to leave when everyone is kind of gearing up and getting ready to have a bit of fun. [But] I mean, I came here knowing that was the deal and I am going to wear it," he said.
D'Arcy said he had battled in the semi-final after getting through his heat earlier in the day and that several technical elements of his swim had not gone to plan.
"I was almost two seconds off my best time and you can't do that in Olympic swimming and expect to make it through to the final," said D'Arcy, who entered the Games having posted the third-fastest time of the year.
"Unfortunately everything didn't come together tonight and didn't quite work out as I'd like it to. I don't think now is the time for excuses. If you don't have a good swim you wear it. You don't sit there and rake up reasons why you didn't go well because at the end of the day it's not going to change anything and they are not going to re-swim the race because I had a few problems so I am not going to make excuses for it."
Fighting got D'Arcy kicked out off the team just hours after he was selected to represent Australia in Beijing, and it took nearly five more years of fighting to get back on the team. He is uncertain now whether one Olympics - and, as it turned out, one day of competing - will be the sum total to show for all his struggles.
"I don't know at the moment. It's been a four-year journey so I guess that will be something I digest over the next couple of weeks," he said.
D'Arcy received the coolest reception of any Australian to enter the pool deck, a murmer quieter than that for his unheralded teammate Chris Wright in lane one, who finished last behind D'Arcy.
In the other 200m butterfly semi-final, US superstar Michael Phelps advanced his bid to become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three successive Olympics when he won comfortably to qualify for the final in the fourth-fastest time.