SYDNEY • Cameron McEvoy has sacrificed his own personal pursuit of Olympic history for the greater good, the Australian swimmer announcing he will not race the 200m freestyle in a bid to remain fresher for the relays.
McEvoy's decision to pull out of the race means he will give up the chance to become the first Australian in history to win six medals at a single Games. His hopes of a record-equalling five medals now rest with the three relays, the 50m and 100m free races.
The Australian, ranked sixth in the world in the 200m this year and No. 1 in the 100m, said he made his decision after consulting his coach Richard Scarce and national coach Jacco Verhaeren.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make, especially seeing I have been doing the 200m freestyle internationally for so long and it has been one of my favourite and main events for my entire swimming career," McEvoy said.
A logjam of races on the second day of competition in Rio led to the 22-year-old's withdrawal - the 200m semi-finals are slated for the same session as the 4x100m free final. He would have been expected to feature in both.
"The (scheduling clash between the relay and) my main events is not the best; there are great benefits for my withdrawal personally but there are great benefits for the relays too," he said.
"I'll be fresher for the 4x100m on day two and I'll be able to step up and absolutely give that my all and on day four I'll be fresher for the 4x200m as well."
The spot vacated by McEvoy has been handed to David McKeon, who finished third in qualification behind McEvoy and Thomas Fraser Holmes.
McKeon, who was already part of the Australian contingent in Rio, will get a chance to emulate his father, Ron, who competed in an identical programme at the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
"My father Ron actually swam the same three events - the 200, the 400 and the 4x200m freestyle relays in '84 so that is very special indeed," said McKeon.
"I know how hard it would have been for Cam to give this event up, I know what it means to him and he would not have taken this decision lightly."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE