Sprint king Adrian unafraid of Phelps

Fri Sep 5, 2014 11:17am EDT
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By Julian Linden

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - As the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 meters freestyle, Nathan Adrian knows what it is like to hunt and be hunted in the water.

Two years ago, at the London Olympics, the American was chasing Australia's world champion James Magnussen for the gold medal in swimming's blue-riband event.

Adrian got his fingernail on the wall first, winning by one one-hundredth of a second, the smallest possible margin in swimming.

As the gold medal was draped around his neck, it was almost as though a giant target was painted on his back, the price every swimmer pays when they go from predator to prey.

Adrian has been unable to scale those dizzy heights since London, finishing third to Magnussen at last year's world championships in Barcelona and second to Cameron McEvoy at last month's Pan Pacific Championships on Australia's Gold Coast.

With three Olympic gold medals - he also won a relay in 2008 and 2012 - the 25-year-old has nothing to prove but remains committed to a sport that involves grueling training and requires total discipline.

"My drive is just to improve, it's not necessarily about increasing my medal count or beating this person or that person," he told Reuters in an interview.

"I get the greatest amount of happiness from just seeing that I worked hard for something and it paid off."   Continued...

Jun 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Michael Phelps (USA), left, shakes hands with Nathan Adrian (USA), right, after the men's 100-meter freestyle finals of the Arena Grand Prix at George F. Haines International Aquatic Center. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports