No Phelps, no Magnussen at world championships

Mega swimming tournament lacking star power ahead of commencement.

Reuters July 22, 2015
Australia's James Magnussen reacts after winning his men's 100m freestyle semifinal. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE: The absence of a handful of the world’s best swimmers, including Michael Phelps, has added an air of uncertainty to the 16th world aquatic championships, starting in Russia on Friday.

The championships were meant to be a full dress rehearsal for next year’s Olympics in Rio but a spate of high-profile withdrawals has diluted the competition.

The highest-profile no-show is Phelps, who was banned from representing the US at the world championships after being convicted of drink driving late last year.

Australia’s James Magnussen, who won the 100-metre freestyle gold at the last two world championships, will also be missing after electing to undergo shoulder surgery.

France’s Yannick Agnel, the reigning world and Olympic champion for 200m freestyle, is also skipping the world championships because of a lung infection.

Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who has emerged as one of the major threats to Phelps in the individual medley events, withdrew earlier this month after slipping over on his way to training and fracturing his elbow.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.

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