Don’t brace yourselves.
That was the message to rivals from dual world champion James Magnussen after his 100m freestyle semi-final display at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games trials in Brisbane on Thursday night.
But his words may have come too late.
Magnussen is so wary of making bold calls after being burnt at the 2012 Olympics that he took the mickey out of his now infamous “brace yourselves” pre-London Games warning when he emerged from the semis pool in Brisbane.
“Don’t brace yourselves. Stay relaxed,” he smiled.
However, Magnussen’s blistering form said otherwise ahead of Friday night’s 100m final.
Magnussen cruised through his semi-final but still clocked 47.83 seconds – just shy of the time that won him the 2013 world title (47.71).
And he hoped to go at least half a second faster on Friday night – putting him well in sight of Brazilian Cesar Cielo’s world mark of 46.91.
“My start was fairly ordinary but I will fix that tomorrow night,” said Magnussen, whose personal best is 47.10.
“That was pretty controlled. I will open a bit more tomorrow night.”
Magnussen showed he meant business when he arrived at the pool without the beard he had lovingly groomed.
“Mum saw it on TV. She said it didn’t suit me,” Magnussen laughed.
“I felt naked (without it).”
But any fears of his beloved beard having Samson-like powers were shelved after the Olympic silver medallist blew away the semi-final field.
His fifth sub-48 second time this year only added to pre-meet speculation from head coach Jacco Verhaeren that his charge may break the world record in Friday’s 100m final.
But Magnussen still remained tightlipped when asked for a prediction ahead of the final after his infamous warning backfired at London where he was relegated to 100m silver and bombed in the 4×100 relay.
Yet national 200m champion Cameron McEvoy – who qualified second fastest in 48.14 – knew exactly what to expect.
“You just know he is going to go psycho, just go insane,” said McEvoy, Magnussen’s London Olympic and 2013 world titles relay teammate.
“It’s more expected that he will come out and just smash it.
“The more I focus on myself the better.”
The only downer was London Olympian James Roberts failing to overcome a back injury and missing out on the 100m final (equal 10th fastest in semis in 49.92).