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Meet the new James Magnussen. He’s humble. He’s taller. He’s contrite. He’s leaner. And he’s keen to win your respect.
Australia’s swim star says he’s a changed man. No more grand-standing. No more grand statements.
“I have learnt a lot in the way I carry myself around pool deck and around racing,” Magnussen told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.
“One thing I have learnt is a lot more respect for my competitors.”
A year ago, Magnussen thought he was invincible; that the Olympic 100m freestyle gold medal was his – just turn up in London and collect it.
He reckons being beaten into second place – by one-hundredth of a second, mind you – is the greatest lesson he’s had.
“I was quite naive to the pressures and the expectations that were going to surround an Olympics,” he said.
“I think I’m pretty lucky to have learnt that at a young age – what it takes to be humble, what it takes to be a true champion of the sport.
“And I have witnessed that at an Olympic Games now.
“I saw guys like (Michael) Phelps and (Ryan) Lochte and even (100m freestyle gold medallist) Nathan Adrian perform at the highest level and put that bravado and that ego to the side.
“So I think that was a really important lesson for me to learn.
“And I certainly plan on conducting myself slightly different around the pool this year.”
Magnussen wants Australia to let him move on – to put London, and the Stilnox saga, behind him.
While he has changed mentally, Magnussen has also changed physically: he took six weeks off after the Olympics, and grew three centimetres.
“It is probably the first chance my body has had to rest and recover,” he said.
“I have put on a little bit of weight but my skin folds are lower. I’m leaner, but I have got a little bit more muscle and a little bit taller.”
Which begs the obvious question: if he was three centimetres taller in London, would that have meant a gold medal instead of silver?
“I don’t know. It might be on my calves or something and not my fingers,” he laughed.