Rice ready to focus on London Games

A glowing Stephanie Rice was enjoying a final fling at the Rosehill races on Saturday ahead of the start of her Olympic preparation on Monday.

The Beijing triple gold medallist surprised herself earlier this month when she shrugged off a persistent shoulder injury to qualify for the London Olympics with one of her best swims of recent times. “I was really shocked actually because I hadn’t had a smooth sailing preparation with my shoulder and the injuries that I had,” Rice told AAP. “I was so relieved to make the team. “I went in really open-minded and just wanted to be able to race really hard and see what I could do. “I was so stoked with the times that I did. I really didn’t think that I’d be able to have that sort of strength and produce those times at this point.” Rice underwent surgery in December to repair a tear in a tendon in her right shoulder. But she said the troublesome shoulder was feeling pretty good at the moment. “It hurts more when I’m not training just because it gets really stiff,” Rice said. “Obviously I still have a hole in the tendon so I need to be pretty careful and just manage it as best as I know possible and hopefully, fingers crossed, it will stay all right.” The 23-year-old swimming champion said her week had been chock-a-block with photo shoots and sponsorship commitments. Training for London will begin in earnest this week. She has been trying to get to the pool as often as possible to keep her injured shoulder limber. Despite the mounting pressure, the defending champion is feeling calm ahead of her second Olympic appearance. “I guess people can say there’s more pressure because of what I achieved in Beijing but I like to go into a preparation not thinking of an outcome,” she said. “Honestly, if I didn’t achieve anything in London, I’m so proud of what I’ve already achieved in this sport.” She said her performance at the qualifiers improved her morale.

“That’s really given me a lot of confidence that I can hopefully get a really big block of training in and improve on those times,” Rice said.