Prince's hoop dreams
HAVING waited so long to make her Olympic debut, rhythmic gymnast Danielle Prince is leaving no stone unturned in her preparation.
As well as the intensive physical requirements to have her routines with ball, hoop, ribbon and clubs "polished" for Rio, there has been the mental training as well.
"We're in that final stage now when all the hard work has been done," the Brisbane girl told Australian Regional Media.
"My body's feeling great and I'm feeling really mentally well prepared too."
Prince said the final word from long-time coach Gina Peluso had been to "actually to enjoy myself ... to enjoy performing, and enjoy taking in that experience of competing in the Olympic arena".
That's easier said than done, but the 24-year-old - a veteran by gymnastics standards - has been putting her mind through its own rigorous workout.
"I've been working closely with my sports psych ... to try and really get a hold on how I'm going to feel," she said.
"So I feel like I'm quite prepared for the nerves - I know what to expect in that sense.
"But, at the end of the day, to know I have my parents (Tess and Mark) in the audience, to have my loved ones, I think that does really help as well - it'll ease those nerves a little bit too."
Prince has been the country's premier rhythmic gymnast for five years. After winning Commonwealth Games team gold in 2010, she has gone on to claim five all-around Australian titles (2011, 2013-16) and make an Australian- record six world championship appearances.
But, until now, an Olympic berth has eluded her, with Janine Murray winning the spot for London 2012.
After finishing as the highest-ranked competitor from Oceania at last year's world titles (78th overall), Prince was in April named by Gymnastics Australia as its sole rhythmic gymnast - and one of only three on the gymnastics team, with Larrissa Miller (artistic) and Blake Gaundry (trampoline) - to hit the mat at Barra Olympic Park.
"To receive the letter and have it in writing, it was amazing," she recalled.
Showing the grace and poise that has made her a champion, Prince has since recorded a second successive clean sweep of gold medals at the nationals in Melbourne - the all-around title and all apparatus - and collected three bronze medals at the Pacific Rim Championships in Washington, USA.
Practising at least 30 hours a week, usually at Moreton Bay College, she has also just returned from a training camp in St Petersburg, Russia.
"It was incredibly hard, being the final one before Rio," she said. "The intensity ... I put 110% into it. You leave the gym having absolutely nothing left in the tank.
"But I'm happy I've made it through ... it's also incredibly satisfying knowing you've done absolutely everything you possibly can. It gives me a lot of confidence going into Rio."
Prince won't actually arrive in Brazil until August 13, with the rhythmic competition not kicking off until August 19.
"Because I'm right at the end of the program, it gives me a little bit more time at home to prepare," she said.
It also means she will miss the opening ceremony. But Prince is prepared for that too.
"My family and I have planned a little family opening ceremony in our living room, so I can put on my opening ceremony uniform," she said.
Prince has chosen a music score written by a composer in Italy, all her routines were choreographed in Helsinki and leotards designed in Italy.