Milorad Cavic was not sorry he lost to Michael Phelps yet again - this time in the 100m butterfly. But he surely regretted his pre-race trash talk at the World Championships in Rome. "When I race Michael Phelps, I want him at his best because only when he's at his best could I ever feel like I've gotten the race I wanted," Cavic had said after criticising Phelps for sticking with his Speedo swimsuit and offering to buy him a new and supposedly faster suit from Arena, similar to the one he sported.
The Serb made it worse by adding he thought Phelps was compromising his chances of winning to maintain sponsor contracts. So on Saturday morning, Phelps beat Cavic with a record time of 49.82 seconds, breaking the record set by Cavic, who touched in at 49.95. Spain's Rafael Munoz came in third with 50.41. Almost as a counter to his previous statement, Cavic admitted that the race was "incredible". He was almost seven-tenths ahead of Phelps at the 50m mark but, admitting that he needed a much bigger lead to win and could not hold on during the second lap.
"Given that he was so close to me at the 50m mark, I was strong to the end," said Cavic. "But Michael Phelps is Michael Phelps and he does what he does and he did. "Of course, winning is pretty important to me. But I want the atmosphere, I want the experience to be everything that it was. There are no regrets. I did my best," he added. "He did something huge. My only regret is I let the media make what it makes of it all"
After losing to Phelps by a mere hundredth of a second during last year's Beijing Olympics - a finish so close that the swimming's governing body had to review the tape down to 10 thousandth of a second - Cavic had decided he wanted to move to Serbia. After working for seven years with coach Mike Bottom in California, the Serb ended up training with Andrea Di Nino. As he was introduced before the race, Cavic waved a banner of the football team AS Roma in what was seen as a gesture towards Italian Di Nino. Di Nino admitted, being a Roma fan, he was flattered by Cavic's "gift" to him.
Cavic last Monday won gold in the 50 fly which means he will be going home with something to be proud of. "He's happy, but he still wants to improve," Di Nino said. * With agencies Editorial, a19