Cameron McEvoy admits changed training focus contributed to Rio Olympics failure

Australia’s Cameron McEvoy admits losing sight of his love for swimming in the frantic lead-up to the Rio Olympics may have contributed to his disastrous campaign.

The swimmer identified the dramatic change in focus during his pre-Games training as one of several factors that could have been responsible for his failure to win an individual medal.

‘There was a rush to get everything right before the Olympics and the focus went off just swimming and feeling the water,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

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Australia¿s Cameron McEvoy admits losing sight of his love for swimming in the frantic lead-up to the Rio Olympics may have contributed to his disastrous campaign

Australia’s Cameron McEvoy admits losing sight of his love for swimming in the frantic lead-up to the Rio Olympics may have contributed to his disastrous campaign

‘It was a very big change from just having pure love for the sport to ticking all the boxes and overlooking why I started swimming in the first place.

‘After the trials, training turned from enjoyment and just wanting to swim well and fast to everything having to be right for the race. So if something went wrong in training there was concern it could affect the race.

‘I still enjoyed every minute of it, but in the future I need to keep reminding myself why I swim and why I’m training.’

McEvoy finished seventh in the 100m freestyle final despite being the hot favourite for gold, and didn’t even qualify for the 50m freestyle final.

McEvoy (left) raises the arm of fellow Australian Kyle Chalmers after the 18-year-old won the 100m freestyle in Rio. McEvoy only finished seventh despite being the hot favourite

McEvoy (left) raises the arm of fellow Australian Kyle Chalmers after the 18-year-old won the 100m freestyle in Rio. McEvoy only finished seventh despite being the hot favourite

His 100m time of 48.12 seconds was more than a second slower than his personal best at the Australian Championships in April, and his silver at last year’s World Championships.

While not making excuses for his poor performance, the 22-year-old admitted he had put a lot of pressure on himself to win and didn’t deliver when it mattered.

‘I went into the Olympics thinking I would race much better. You train for 1,300 days over four years but you have to be at your peak on that one day,’ he said.

‘That’s tough enough to do physically but when you add the pressure you put yourself under because you have so much time and emotion invested into that one race it makes it really difficult and on the day I didn’t get it quite right.’

The swimmer identified the dramatic change in focus during his pre-Games training as one of several factors that could have been responsible for his failure to win an individual medal

The swimmer identified the dramatic change in focus during his pre-Games training as one of several factors that could have been responsible for his failure to win an individual medal

Australian head swim coach Jacco Verhaeren at the time blamed McEvoy’s performance on ‘stage fright’, and said it ‘looked like he was frozen’.

‘It had nothing to do with any physical, technical, tactical choices whatsoever. He just wasn’t there at the right time and that’s mental,’ he said.

While not making excuses for his poor performance, the 22-year-old admitted he had put a lot of pressure on himself to win and didn¿t deliver when it mattered

While not making excuses for his poor performance, the 22-year-old admitted he had put a lot of pressure on himself to win and didn’t deliver when it mattered

But McEvoy this weekend rejected that explanation and instead pointed to a ‘combination of little things that added up’, in addition to his mental preparation.

They range from a change in the ‘twang’ of his stroke to his arm growing a centimetre longer or a different workout routine altering his core muscles and affecting his rotation.

‘It was a rollercoaster in the days after the race and each day I had a different thought about what could have gone wrong. I still haven’t pinpointed why,’ he said.

McEvoy pointed to a ¿combination of little things that added up¿, in addition to his mental preparation, for his slow times

McEvoy pointed to a ‘combination of little things that added up’, in addition to his mental preparation, for his slow times

With the races now more than two weeks ago, McEvoy was doing his best to move on from the heartbreak of losing and look ahead to next year’s World Championships.

‘At this point in my career I don’t want to spend time wondering about why the result wasn’t what I wanted, and just move forward,’ he said.

‘I came home and life goes on, I still have swimming training at 5am so I have to get back on the horse and improve.’

Instead of continuing to dwell on his failure in Rio, he was trying to use it as a learning experience to refine his technique and increase his stroke rate.

Instead of continuing to dwell on his failure in Rio, he was trying to use it as a learning experience to refine his technique and increase his stroke rate

Instead of continuing to dwell on his failure in Rio, he was trying to use it as a learning experience to refine his technique and increase his stroke rate

‘There’s a lot of things my coach and I learned that are going to be huge weapons when I get back in the water. Even little improvements could see me swim under 47 seconds in the 100m which is very exciting,’ he said.

‘I thought I knew a lot about myself and about swimming but it’s clear I have a lot to improve upon.’

McEvoy also said he had no regrets about being controversially dropped from the 4x200m freestyle relay to lighten his load, but admitted it may have cost them a medal.

‘Looking at the result in hindsight it may have been different if I competed,’ he said.

McEvoy also said he had no regrets about being controversially dropped from the 4x200m freestyle relay (pictured) to lighten his load, but admitted it may have cost them a medal

McEvoy also said he had no regrets about being controversially dropped from the 4x200m freestyle relay (pictured) to lighten his load, but admitted it may have cost them a medal

‘It’s really difficult to decide what to do under those circumstances and I completely trusted their decision and I’m not going to look back on it with any regret or resentment.’

Australia missed out on bronze by just 0.68 of a second to Japan, with McEvoy’s personal best time more than two seconds faster than the team’s slowest leg.

Despite the disappointing Olympics, McEvoy has vowed to return in 2020 for the Tokyo Games and was excited for the 2018 Commonweath Games in his native Gold Coast.

‘I’m only 22 and the average age in the 100m was 26 so maybe I’ll even be at the Olympics after that (in 2024),’ he said. 

McEvoy (second from left) also this weekend made his debut as a Myer ambassador alongside model Jennifer Hawkins (third from left)

McEvoy (second from left) also this weekend made his debut as a Myer ambassador alongside model Jennifer Hawkins (third from left)

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