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Rice first to be London bound

15 March 2012

Olympic champion Stephanie Rice declared she had finally let her swimming do the talking after producing her best swim in three years to ensure a shot a defending her 400m individual medley title in London.

Amid doubts over her condition and form, Rice made a serious statement by clocking 4 minutes 33.45 seconds - the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Britain's Hannah Miley - in Thursday night's final.

It was Rice's fastest swim since the supersuit era and came despite despite an interrupted preparation in which Rice has dealt with problems following athroscopic surgery on her right shoulder in December to repair a torn tendon.

Rice was relieved but bullish after the race, saying she felt she had proved her doubters wrong and that she remained a hope of winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

"I think people have written me off for the past few years and I think it's nice to finally let the swimming do the talking and to post a good time is really all I wanted to do," Rice said.

"I could sit up here and say that I've been training really hard and doing really well but to put the time on the board is all that I needed to do.

"... Just to know now that I'm going to London is the most exciting thing.

"Leading up to the meet, family and friends were like `oh, you'll make it, don't be silly' and it was just so frustrating because they didn't understand how intense an Olympic trials is."

West Australian Blair Evans was second in 4:37.80 to secure the second individual Olympic berth and a spot on her first Games team.

Rice, 23, came into the meet a long way off her brilliant best which saw her claim three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics and her build-up to the trials had been far from ideal.

She admitted the shoulder problems had played on her mind but she was confident of further improvement in the three months leading up to London.

"If I can get a consistent three months, I have no doubt that I'll be competitive," she said.

To download an inspirational wallpaper of Rice on her way to gold at the Beijing Olympics click here>>>

Earlier on Thursday night, comeback swimmer Libby Trickett continued her encouraging improvement to book her place in Friday night's 100m butterfly semi-final.

Trickett clocked 59.67 seconds, the fastest swim since her comeback, to qualify sixth fastest for the final.

"For me it's just such a thrill, I'm buzzing at the moment and just so excited to be here racing at this level again," Trickett said.

Jess Schipper (58.26) was the fastest qualifier, edging out reigning champion Alicia Coutts (58.30).

Thomas Fraser-Holmes produced a stunning swim to take out the men's 400m individual medley final in 4:11.81, shattering the Australian record.

"I'm over the moon right now, I love it," the Denis Cotteril-trained swimmer said.

"I didn't feel that good this morning but I guess it was just a blow out swim."

Fellow 20-year-old Daniel Tranter (4:16.38) was second to also earn Olympic selection.

Teenager David McKeon caused an upset and carried on a proud family tradition in taking out the men's 400m freestyle title.

The Wollongong 19-year-old clocked 3 minutes 48.96 seconds to overpower race favourite Ryan Napoleon (3:47.93) in the final to book his ticket to the London Olympics.

McKeon will follow in the footsteps of his father Ron and uncle Rob Woodhouse, both former Olympic swimmers, while his 17-year-old sister Emma is also trying to win a spot on the team this week.

Brenton Rickard (1:00.36) led the way into Friday night's 100m breaststroke final ahead of arch-rival Christian Sprenger (1:00.56).Rice lets swimming do the talking.

AUSTRALIAN C'SHIPS in Adelaide: (Olympic Trials) Finals: MEN: 400m freestyle: D McKeon (NSW) 3m46.36s 1, R Napoleon (Qld) 3m47.93s 2, R Hurley (NSW) 3m48.60s 3, D Potts (Qld) 3m52.64s 4, M Terry (Qld) 3m53.93s 5, G O'Brien (Qld) 3m54.34s 6, M Levings (Qld) 3m54.75s 7, S Asbury (Vic) 3m56.90s 8. 400m IM: T Fraser-Holmes (Qld) 4m11.81s 1, D Tranter (NSW) 4m16.38s 2, M Larkin (Qld) 4m18.38s 3, T Nederpelt (WA) 4m21.01s 4, S Parkes (NSW) 4m25.49s 5, E Tee (Vic) 4m25.65s 6, J Gilliland (Qld) 4m26.11s 7, K Casey (NSW) 4m32.48s 8. WOMEN: 400m IM: S Rice (QLD) 4m33.45s 1, B Evans (WA) 4m37.80s 2, S Hamill (Qld) 4m42.69s 3, E Fullerton (Qld) 4m43.90s 4, A Levings (Qld) 4m45.02s 5, S Wilkins (Vic) 4m46.55s 6, J Staples (SA) 4m49.19s 7, K McMaster (Qld) 4m52.18s 8. MULTICLASS: Men: 100m backstroke: M Anderson (Qld) M Cowdrey (Qld) G Patterson (Qld). Women: 100m backstroke: 100m: K Clarke (Qld) E Cole (Vic) T Corry (Nsw).

Liam Fitzgibbons
AAP

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