Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice has been one of the most celebrated women athletes in the past decade. Rice, a recipient of the 2008 Female World Swimmer of the Year, has been the talk of women's swimming so far in the 2012 London Olympics.
The 2008 gold meal-winning sensation is receiving a lot of attention in London this summer for the wrong reasons. She failed to defend her title in the 400-meter individual medley, finishing in a disappointing sixth place with a time of four minutes, 35.49 seconds.
The winner of the event was 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation Ye Shiwen with a time of 4:28.43, smashing Rice's previous world record by an impressive 1.02 seconds.
The 24-year-old Australian swimmer knows she was the defending gold medalist and world record holder for this event, and that's why it must be that much harder for her to live this one down.
In order for her to get back on track she needs to put this nightmare finish behind her. She is one of the most gifted female swimmers in the world and she could easily compete for gold in any event she participates in.
She should have the mindset of a gold medalist rather than the mindset of a swimmer who just finished sixth in one of her best events. This will test her will to win and teach her a lot about herself.
Although Ye Shiwen may be the swimmer to beat, being the gold medal winner of the 400-meter individual medley and last year's world champion female swimmer, Rice can do some damage.
As long as Rice just stays in contention and qualifies for the final of the 200-meter individual medley tomorrow, anything could happen.
Rice has the speed and skill to medal in this event, especially since she won the gold medal in the event just four short years ago in Beijing. If she loses this event, it will be the second event already in these Olympics that she has failed to defend her title in.
If she qualifies for the final, Ye Shiwen and even teammate Alicia Coutts, a winner of gold and bronze medal already, will be the two swimmers she needs to beat. Shiwen will be the clear favorite and Coutts had a better semi-final qualifying time than Rice.
Rice needs to stay focused on the task at hand, qualifying and winning a medal for the event she won four years ago. She needs to keep a positive mind and rest up for this event because she has already swam in multiple events in just a couple of days. Rest is key for the Australian swimming hero if she wants to defend her crown.
She didn't break three world records and win three gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics without overcoming adversity. This will be a huge test of character for the Aussie swimmer. No matter where she finishes in the rest of her events, she will still be a hero back home and her country should be proud to have an athlete like her representing them.