A mid-race conversation with her alter ego talked Stephanie Rice into qualifying for another Olympic final.
But WA’s Blair Evans was lost for words after a disappointing result in her first race of the London Games.
Rice, defending her Olympic 400m individual medley crown, was in danger of bombing out of the title chase midway through the multi-discipline event.
The 24-year-old, who has battled a lingering right shoulder injury for the past two years, realised she was in trouble, too.
“I knew after the 200 that I was further back than I needed to be. Hopefully I’ll be a bit further in front tonight,” Rice said. “I knew I was about fifth and for a while I thought, “crap Steph you are not even in the race”.
“So it helped get me going.”
Rice finished second (4min. 35.76sec.) in her heat behind Briton Hannah Miley.
Event favourite Elizabeth Beisel was the fastest qualifier with 4:31.68.
Evans didn’t make the top eight places from the heats. Her time, 4:40.42, ranked her 13th. The Sandgroper was disappointed after the race and didn’t stop to talk to media.
The 21-year-old is in contention to swim in the 4 x 200m relay on Tuesday.
Shortly after the race Rice began loading up on protein bars in the hope it would aid her recovery for the final tonight. But while the Queenslander is confident of a better effort she isn’t making any predictions about medals
“I think a 4:35 was what it was going to take from me to get through to the final,” Rice said
“I know I’m not fit enough to cruise through a 4:35 at the moment so that is a pretty tough race this morning. Now I know I’m in the final and I’ll be able to go fast tonight. But it took a bit out of me.”.
“Coming in I knew I’m not as ready as I would like to be
“I have been open minded and wanting to enjoy the experience because I don’t know what I can do in the final. I’d like to do better than what I did at trials – that’s pretty much the goal. Whatever spot it gets me I can’t be disappointed because I know I can’ do any better.”