Date: June 29 2012
Olympic gold medal hopeful James Magnussen has one less rival to worry about after Michael Phelps withdrew from the 100 metres freestyle at the US swimming trials yesterday.
Phelps wasn't expected to pose a challenge to world champion Magnussen in the Australian's pet event in London but, as a 14-time gold medallist, his presence on the blocks would have at least warranted some attention.
The 26-year-old is expected to be in the mix for the 4x100m freestyle relay, however, where the US is out to defend its Olympic crown.
Earlier yesterday, Phelps turned the tables on Ryan Lochte by winning the 200m freestyle final, edging his rival as both secured spots at the London Games.
Phelps, the former world record-holder and reigning Olympic champion, led at every turn with Lochte right on his shoulder.
Both came hard off the final turn, with Lochte putting on the pressure before Phelps's final push gave him the victory in one minute and 45.7 seconds.
Lochte - who beat Phelps in the event at last year's world championships in Shanghai - was second in 1:45.75.
The two are already booked for an Olympic clash in the 400m individual medley, in which Lochte beat Phelps on Tuesday.
Phelps also lost to Lochte in their 200m free semi-final on Tuesday and said he had made some changes to his race tactics.
''I saw the semi-finals and, watching the turns, I just got crushed on the wall,'' he said.
''So I tried to sort of use more speed and try to just take it out.''
Lochte was already looking forward to doing it all again in London.
''I love that race,'' Lochte said.
''I love racing against him. I could be a pool length ahead of him, and he'll still be there at the end. He's a great racer.''
Phelps returned less than an hour after the 200m free final for the semi-finals of the 200m butterfly, where he had the third-quickest time of 1:56.42 behind Bobby Bollier (1:56.06) and Davis Tarwater (1:56.10).
As Phelps was busy lining up more chances to cement his Olympic legacy, teenager Missy Franklin led a changing of the guard in the women's 100m backstroke.
Franklin, 17, tipped for Olympic stardom after her breakout performance at last year's world championships, surged into the lead on the second lap to win in 58.85s - an American record and the fastest time in the world this year.
Rachel Bootsma, 18, was second in 59.49 to punch her ticket to the Games, while 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending Olympic champion, finished third to miss out on a chance at a third title.
Only the top two finishers in each event in the eight-day meeting secure places in the Olympic team.
''I did my best - that's all you can ask for,'' said Coughlin, who swam under the lane ropes at the end to congratulate the ecstatic teens.
Franklin was introduced as an Olympic team member in front of a crowd of 12,000.
''I have dreamed of this moment, but I never thought it would come true at 17 years old,'' she said. ''Dreams do come true.''
Breeja Larson sprung a surprise in the women's 100m breaststroke, winning in 1:05.92 ahead of world champion Rebecca Soni - who secured her London spot in 1:05.99.
World record-holder Jessica Hardy was the odd woman out, finishing third in 1:06.53.
Matt Grevers won the men's 100m backstroke in 52.08s - fastest in the world this year. AFP
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