All's nice for long reign Rice
Stephanie Rice at the State Open Swimming Championships in Sydney. Photo: Steve Christo
Triple Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice is confident her injured shoulder can carry her to success in London, but her main fear is her parents won’t be there to see it.
Australia’s golden girl of the pool faces the prospect of defending her 200m and 400m individual medley titles without her most loyal supporters in the stands.
In Canberra this morning for a relay camp at the Australian Institute of Sport, Rice revealed her family was finding it near impossible to secure seats for the highly-sought after swimming sessions.
‘‘My parents are finding it really hard to get tickets,’’ Rice said.
‘‘They have really struggled, but they know how important it is to me for them to be there.
‘‘The hardest part is the fact there are no tickets available regardless of the cost.’’
Rice has needed her family more than ever in the past six months as a persistent shoulder injury threatened her Olympic Games campaign.
Surgery last December failed to fix the problem, and the 23-year-old would have taken 12 months out of the pool if it was any other year.
But with the Olympic Games just around the corner, Rice battled through the pain to take out both the 200m and 400m IM titles at the national selection trials in March.
Incredibly, her time in the 400m IM was the second-fastest in the world this year behind Great Britain’s Hannah Miley.
Rice said her training program will continue to be carefully managed for the next three months ahead of the Olympic Games, which begin in July.
‘‘The last six weeks leading into the nationals I kept it at a pretty decent state and I’m trying to maintain it leading into this preparation,’’ Rice said.
‘‘Obviously when we build up training and intensity it becomes more vulnerable, so I need to make sure I’m ticking every box with massage and physio and icing my shoulder after every session.
‘‘Some sessions just aren’t there and we have to learn when to back off and make up for what I miss.
‘‘If I can get a really good preparation in the next 12 weeks I’ll be confident when I get to London.’’
All going to plan, Rice will reprise her role in the triumphant women’s 4x200m freestyle team from four years ago.
Kylie Palmer, Bronte Barratt, Rice and the now-retired Linda McKenzie took an amazing five seconds off the world record to beat the United States in that event for the first time.
Jade Neilsen, Blair Evans and Angie Bainbridge who swam the heat in Beijing, are also in the mix to earn a spot in the team.
‘‘It was one of those really fantastic moments,’’ Rice recalled.
‘‘Everyone asks what was the best swim for me in Beijing, but the relay was probably the most enjoyable.
‘‘To come away with the gold when no-one expected us to was amazing.
‘‘We can produce another great swim if we’re all ready to go come London.’’