Triple Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice has described her performances at the recent Swimming World Championships in Shanghai as the "kick up the bum" she needed.
In an exclusive interview for the Wide World of Sports website, her first since returning from China, the pin-up girl of Australian swimming said she had been left in no doubt about the battle she faces ahead of next year's London Olympics.
"It was sort of a good kick up the bum I needed … need that extra motivation, so it was good," Rice said.
"I think people would have liked me to do better, but at the end of the day I have to be happy with the times I did."
In what was her first major meet since shoulder surgery 10 months ago, Rice walked away from the World Championships with two bronze medals, though only one was for an individual race.
That was taken in her pet event, the 400m individual medley, in which her time of 4mins29.45secs at the Beijing Olympics remains history's fastest.
The 23-year-old was almost five seconds slower in Shanghai, surrendering a body-length lead in the final to finish behind American Elizabeth Beisel (4:31.78) and Great Britain's Hannah Miley (4:34.22).
"I wasn’t putting too much pressure or expectation on myself leading into the meet, I just wanted to see where I was at.
"I thought I was pretty fit, but I know I have a lot more to put into my preparation and training to come away with better results."
Rice received worldwide acclaim when she captured three gold medals, all in world record time, at the 2008 Olympics.
Plagued by poor form and injury since, she said she is only now beginning to appreciate those feats – and has a thirst for more.
"I know that I'm just going to put everything on the line in this preparation.
"Olympics holds so much emotion and excitement and I'm so looking forward to having that build-up again like we had in Beijing.
"You know if I can make the team that will be an achievement in itself, but I don't want to look at London Olympic year as being something that I’m trying to improve upon from Beijing.
"I think I have to look at them very separately and just focus on enjoying the moment and trying to do my best because at the end of the day that's all you can really do."