Seven-year hitch frustrates Phelps

Swimming superstar Michael Phelps said Sunday his US team would use the pain of defeat to Australia in the 4x100m freestyle relay as motivation as they hunt Olympic gold next year.

Updated: July 25, 2011 15:15 IST
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Shanghai: Swimming superstar Michael Phelps said on Sunday his US team would use the pain of defeat to Australia in the 4x100m freestyle relay as motivation as they hunt Olympic gold next year.

The much-vaunted US team saw their seven-year winning streak in world championships and Olympic Games ended as they finished a disappointing third in the showpiece race of the first night of swimming action in Shanghai.

Australia's James Magnussen had the better of 14-time Olympic gold medallist Phelps in the first leg and they kept their grip to consign the United States to their first defeat in the race since the 2004 Olympics.

"It's frustrating. As we all said after the race, it's not how we want to start it," said Phelps, whose team finished nearly a second behind Australia's 3min 11.00sec.

"We know what we have to do to get back and we all said standing up on the podium it's clearly not the spot we want to be in, so this is really going to be a motivation."

When asked what the team -- Garrett Weber-Gale, Jason Lezak and Nathan Adrian -- had said to each other after the defeat, Phelps said: "I think at that point there's nothing we can really do to change it.

"It's something we have to learn from and use to fuel us for the next year and it is a good thing it's not the Olympics.

"We have time to get ready and prepare and change some things and I think that's what we're all going to do because I don't think we like the feeling that we've got now.

"To be able to pull out a medal is good but we as Americans want to win everything that we do and we want to be the best so that's all I can really say," said Phelps, who is counting down to his retirement next year.

"We're just trying to be the best we can be and we all know that we can be better than that."

Phelps, who has 22 world titles, also suffered his first loss in the race at a major event since the 2004 Athens Games. The Americans also won world gold in 2007 and 2009, as well as the 2008 Olympic title -- one of Phelps' eight wins in Beijing.

When asked what the team needed to do to regain their position at the top of the pile, Phelps said: "Clearly we need to be faster.

"That's the easiest thing. Those guys jumped on that first 100m and got to open water and I think that's something we need to do in that race."

US men's head coach Eddie Reese echoed Phelps's frustrations.

"We think we're a country that no matter how good our individual events are, we're going to swim relays. We usually swim our relays as well or better than we look like we should and this wasn't a very good relay for us," he said.

When asked the reason for the poor showing, he said: "I think we call it human beings and there's no way to beat that."

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