Just as Aussie Cate Campbell established herself as the favorite in the women’s 100m freestyle via her recent world record in the event, teammate Cameron McEvoy set himself up as the man to beat in the 100m freestyle for the men. At the Australian Olympic Trials in April, McEvoy clocked an incredibly fast 47.04 to become the fastest 100m freestyler ever in a textile suit.
However, when McEvoy wound up touching in 7th in Wednesday night’s event final at the 2016 Olympic Games, swim enthusiasts around the world fell quiet when trying to digest the unlikely scenario of the 21-year-old finishing off the podium.
Some wondered if McEvoy were ill or if there was some other tangible excuse for the less-than-stellar outing, but Australian Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren points to simple stage fright.
“It looked like he was frozen … how do you call it, stage fright. It had nothing to do with any physical, technical, tactical choices whatsoever. He just wasn’t there at the right time. And that is mental. And what part of mental we have to find out,” Verhaeren told the press post-race. (Fox Sports)
For his part, Queenslander McEvoy said, “I don’t want to stand here being the guy rolling off excuses, it was this or it was that. Not only because that is not the type of person I am, but I also don’t want to take anything away from what Kyle has achieved.” 18-year-old Aussie teammate Kyle Chalmers roared to the wall in first place to take home the 100m freestyle gold.
Confirming no sickness was involved with McEvoy, Verhaeren simply said, “No. He hasn’t been ill.”
McEvoy’s own coach, Richard Scarce, described the situation as things simply ‘not coming together’ for McEvoy at race time. “You don’t want that to happen now at the Olympics … but it just wasn’t right for him on the day.”
He said the nature of the defeat was something McEvoy must now get past.
“And he will, he’s a great young athlete.
“He could do it again shortly and there might be a different outcome maybe. But that is the moment, that is sport, and that is the Olympics – you have got to do it in that moment.”