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Rio champ Chalmers learns harsh lesson

Sport

If anyone knows how Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers feels after learning a harsh lesson at the national swim titles in Brisbane, it's the man who helped deliver it - Cameron McEvoy.

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Chalmers – just 18 – admitted to a poolside TV reporter he had found it difficult under the sudden spotlight after four-time champion McEvoy relegated him to silver in the 100m freestyle final last night.

But McEvoy believed Chalmers would learn from his Brisbane experience and bounce back at July’s world titles in Budapest.

He would know.

McEvoy was the red hot 100m favourite at Rio but faded to sixth in the final as a then-unheralded Chalmers surged to gold, prompting Australian coach Jacco Verhaeren to claim the dual Olympian had suffered “stage fright”.

A mentally stronger McEvoy emerged at this week’s national titles to fire an ominous warning to sprint rivals in Hungary.

He held out Chalmers’ trademark whirlwind finish to win in 47.91 seconds – the year’s fastest 100m time.

“From my experience it is a change going in as underdog and then having to race your next in the spotlight,” McEvoy said of Chalmers.

“It’s not something that is really instinctual to a human.

“It’s pretty hit and miss the first time you do it.

“But he is a quick learner and I am sure he would have soaked up as much experience he could.

“He might be perfectly fine for worlds.”

Asked if he was finally comfortable in the spotlight, McEvoy said: “I feel like I am.”

“There was a pretty big build-up (for 100m) but I felt I held it together pretty well,” he said.

“Through the last 18 months I have learned a lot about how to approach things.”

McEvoy needed the newfound mental strength after a 200m freestyle final fizzer on Monday night.

The three-time defending champion was relegated to fifth, denying him an individual 200m berth at Budapest.

However, McEvoy regrouped to add a fourth straight national 100m title to his 50m freestyle crown sealed on the opening night in Brisbane.

“After the 200m I went home and thought about what I did in the 50m and how I had been feeling in the water,” McEvoy said.

“So it (200m finish) really didn’t make an impact on how I viewed the 100m.

“It’s a good lesson to kids watching – you can have a disastrous race and still turn around and come back and swim well.”

-AAP

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