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Cavic regrets pre-race trash talk about Phelps' suit
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Milorad Cavic was satisfied with his tactics after losing to Michael Phelps again on Saturday. It was his pre-race trash talk that he appeared most sorry about.

After morning heats on Friday, Cavic lambasted Phelps for sticking with his Speedo swimsuit, offering to buy his rival one of the new, supposedly faster suits from Arena or Jaked. Cavic intimated that Phelps was compromising his chances of winning to maintain his lucrative contract with his sponsor.

"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," said Cavic, who wears Arena. "Of course, winning is pretty important to me. But I want the atmosphere, I want the experience to be everything that it was tonight.

"There are no regrets. I did my best. He did something huge - huge," Cavic said. "My only regret is I let the media make what it makes of it all."

Cavic regrets pre-race trash talk about Phelps' suit

In almost an exact replay of last year's Beijing Olympics, Phelps beat Cavic with a furious finish in the 100m butterfly, breaking the world record set by the Serb in Friday night's semifinals. Phelps clocked 49.82 seconds, Cavic touched in 49.95 and Rafael Munoz of Spain was third in 50.41.

Cavic was nearly seven-tenths ahead of Phelps at the 50m mark, but he couldn't hold on to the lead on the second lap.

"It was an incredible race. We all went a lot faster than we expected," Cavic said. "Tactically, I didn't do anything wrong. I think I had a much better finish than usual. ... But I knew that if I was going to win this race, I needed a big enough lead in front of Michael, and at the 50m mark I turned and saw that he was much closer than I would have expected.

"Given that he was so close to me at the 50m mark, I was very, very strong toward the end," he added. "But Michael Phelps is Michael Phelps and he does what he does and he did."

At last year's Beijing Olympics, Cavic came closer to beating Phelps than anyone else.

The American-born Serb lost by a mere hundredth of a second, a finish so close that the Serbs filed a protest and swimming's governing body had to review the tape down to the 10-thousandth of a second.

After the Olympics, Cavic ended a seven-year run of working with coach Mike Bottom in California, deciding he wanted to move to Serbia. But the roof of his training pool in Serbia caved in and he ended up training with Italian coach Andrea Di Nino in San Marino.

In a gesture toward his coach - and perhaps in a move to win over the crowd - Cavic waved a banner for the local soccer team, AS Roma, when he was introduced before the race. "It was a gift to me," Di Nino said.

"I'm from Rome and I'm a Roma fan."

While the 100 fly didn't plan out as he hoped, Cavic will still leave Rome with his first gold medal at a world championship. Last Monday, Cavic won the 50 fly, a non-Olympic event that Phelps does not swim.

"He's happy. He got one gold and one silver medal, but he still wants to improve," Di Nino said. "And it's just between him and Phelps. Munoz was six-tenths behind.

"It was a great race, between two champions," the coach added. "Michael Phelps is the Michael Jordan of swimming. Losing to Michael Phelps is an honor, and Phelps knows he can't rest on his laurels in the coming years. Cavic is right there."

But Cavic might not get the chance to race Phelps again until the 2011 Worlds in Shanghai. Di Nino doesn't want to wait that long. "We're ready. It's Phelps that doesn't race during the season. Cavic races World Cup. But it's like boxing - whoever has the title decides on the rematch," Di Nino said. "We hope it's before Shanghai."

(AP via China Daily August 3, 2009)

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