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Roberts eyes Commonwealth Games glory and Tokyo Olympics

by ZwemZa on January 21st, 2018
James Roberts at the London Olympics.Source:News Limited

James Roberts at the London Olympics.Source:News Limited

A resurgent James Roberts says he’s not willing to call time on his swimming career until he helps Australia’s sprint relay conquer the world.

A two-time Olympian, Roberts has battled back from back and shoulder injuries to be on the cusp of selection for the Commonwealth Games in his home city of the Gold Coast.

The 26-year-old claimed the 50m freestyle at the NSW championships following on from his third placing in the 100m behind Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen earlier in the meet.

And with his times some of the fastest in-season of his career, it points to a second coming for the sprinter, who has revived his career with Ashley Callus at Somerset College.

Roberts made the team for last year’s world championships in the 50m freestyle but is back to concentrating on the 100m this season, targeting both an individual spot as well as a cherished relay position.

“I’ve decided I do want to swim on to Tokyo (Olympics in 2020), the passion’s still there and if I can do everything right I’m still good enough to be up there with these guys,” he said.

Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team (from left) Matt Abood, James Magnussen, James Roberts and Kyle Chalmers at the Rio Olympics. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team (from left) Matt Abood, James Magnussen, James Roberts and Kyle Chalmers at the Rio Olympics. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

“I really want to get back to being part of that relay.

“Watching the guys do an awesome job in Budapest (at the world championships last year) in the relay, I think there were a few things that could have been done better.

“And sitting back and watching that, I think we’ve got an amazing depth again like we had in 2012.

“I know that once we get it all firing on the day, I know we can do something special, so I do want to be part of that team and that’s why this year, I’ve been working a bit more towards the 100m.”

Roberts is Australia’s fifth-fastest swimmer of all time over the 100m freestyle and was part of the 2012 relay squad considered gold medal favourites before their London meltdown.

And he is desperate to be a part of the team when everything clicks.

“It’s really hard. The first year that I was part of the relay was 2011 and they got that one right. I had an individual swim but my coach decided to leave me off the finals team and sitting up there watching the guys win was a strange feeling.

“It’s something that I have to be a part of before I quit. I’m not going to give up until we hopefully get there.

Cate Campbell after returning from the Rio Olympics.

Cate Campbell after returning from the Rio Olympics.Source:News Corp Australia

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career but it’s little things like tonight that make it all worthwhile.”

Meanwhile, Cate Campbell has called on Australia’s young guns to step up in the 200m so she won’t have to repeat an effort she joked left her “dying”.

Campbell won the 200m in 1min 58.86sec to achieve something she thought she’d never see – “200m and champion in the same sentence next to my name” – but hopes it does not mean she will be called into Australia’s 4x200m relay.

“If my country needs me, if it’s in dire straits, then I will come to its aid,” she joked, hardly able to stand after the final.

“If I’m called upon, I will step up but I’m really hoping that the young guys really step up in that 200m and they can leave the old dogs to go the 100m.

“I was hoping if I did enough bad ones, (my coach) would stop me doing them but the competitive edge in me couldn’t let me bomb out in every (200m) race I do.

“I’m pleased with that. I won’t be doing another one in a hurry, but I’m pleased with all my swims this week.”

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