July 3 - Beach volleyball star Natalie Cook will be competing at her fifth Olympic Games, an Australian women's record, after qualifying for London 2012.
Cook (pictured above and below, left) has the distinction of being the only woman to have competed in all five Olympics since the sport debuted in 1996, will be hoping to add to her gold medal won on home soil at Sydney 2000 alongside Kerri Pottharst.
Cook and Tamsin Hinchley (née Barnett, pictured below, right) sealed their London spot at the Continental Cup – an Olympic qualifying event – in Fuzhou, China, after missing out on an automatic place.
For the 26 teams competing in Fuzhou, there was only one spot on offer though; which Cook believes will have done her the world of good for London.
"The tears yesterday – I don't think I've sobbed like that ever before, not even when we won in Sydney," Cook said.
"To be a five-time Olympian and be the only female in Australia to do that is pretty special.
"To be able to stay at that level of my game and hold my standard at an international level for so long is great.
"I think the pressure from the last week – we were going through emotions of fear and excitement and anxiety and joy – and I remember feeling all of that in Sydney when we won the gold medal.
"This week was the same pressure if not more because if you lose you do not even get to the Olympics.
"I mean the Olympic Games will be a breeze compared to the stress and the emotional pressure we were under in this last week – it was pretty epic."
Cook and Hinchley played together at Beijing 2008 (pictured above), losing at the quarter-final stage.
London 2012 will be Hinchley's third Games.
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