Australian triple golden girl of 2008 Stephanie Rice insisted today that she's ready to defend her two medley crowns when racing gets underway at London 2012 this Saturday.
Rice had a scare when a neck problem reared up recently but the 24-year-old, who has received treatment after every training set of late, told a media conference in London today: "I feel much better today in terms of the neck. We did a time-trial the other day and I pulled my suit off and just kinked it (the neck) a little. It's fine, it wouldn't be a high pressure preparation without something going a bit not to plan but I feel like I'm really capable of handling things like that at the moment."
The road to London had not been perfect, she noted: "It's been a very rough and up and down prep. I'm just so excited to come into this last week before racing and focus on the mental side of things. Going into the (athletes') village and seeing the pool for the first time was really exciting."
She felt no great pressure as a defending champion, saying: "My goals are pretty similar to what I had going into Beijing. I'm not someone who likes to consider an end performance as a win or lose sort of situation. I never like to talk about winning, it's not just the way I like to think about things. For me it's more about the process and I think putting in a good preparation gives you the confidence you need to line-up in a really high-pressure environment.
"My preparation hasn't been spectacular and definitely has been very different to what it was four years ago. That said, I've done absolutely everything I possibly could have and that was the feeling I wanted to have standing behind the blocks, just knowing I couldn't have done anything more and I'm really proud of the character I've had to have to get to this point in time. So anything beyond making a final is truly a blessing."