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Mitchell confident of medal chances in gym
Nick Perry
03:17 AEST Fri Jul 20 2012

She may be turning 21 in a few days, but Lauren Mitchell has other more important milestones on the horizon: winning Australia's first Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics.

Mitchell arrived in London on Thursday a far more accomplished gymnast than the one who performed in Beijing four years ago.

There, the Australian artistic team earned its best ever result of sixth place after more than 50 years of competing in the sport at the Olympics.

Since then, Mitchell has won four gold medals and a silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and become Australia's first female gymnast to be crowned world champion after winning on the floor that same year.

The Perth native now leads an older and more experienced team in London, with Beijing Olympians Georgia Bonora and Ashleigh Brennan back for another shot at glory along with debutants Emily Little and Larrissa Miller.

Mitchell knows expectations are high, but can this strong Australian line-up make history and claim that elusive Olympic medal at North Greenwich Arena?

"It would be incredible to win a Games medal," Mitchell told reporters in London on Thursday.

"Not only for me, but for my country and for my coaches and for everyone who has supported me.

"At the end of the day you have to make the finals first, so that's kind of what I am focused on at the moment."

But after cleaning up at the 2011 Australian Championships and kicking off her Olympic campaign with a gold medal at the World Cup, Mitchell knows she has what it takes to top the podium in London.

"I have the (degree of) difficulty to win gold, definitely," she said.

She said her first priority was to qualify Australia for the team competition, and then focus on the individual floor and beam.

Coach Peggy Liddick has taught the girls to ignore the distractions of Olympic competition by using strobe lights to simulate flash photography, music and screens to project rivals during training sessions in Canberra.

Mitchell says the team has held together and is prepared to face their traditional foes, including Great Britain.

"There is always that friendly rivalry," Mitchell said of Great Britain, whom Australia defeated at the Commonwealth Games.

Celebrations for her birthday on July 23 will be put on hold until after the Games, she said, but competing at the Olympics is more than enough of a gift.

"Just to have a birthday at London is pretty special, especially at the Olympics."

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