She seems so excited and doesn;t look like she will be retiring yet
Former top 10 player Alicia Molik is putting the finishing touches on her preparation for the Beijing Olympics. Just weeks out from the opening ceremony, the 27 year old took time out from her busy training schedule to join in an Aviva Tennis Hot Shots session at Melbourne Park with some very excited players from Camp Quality.
Describing the past four years as a “rocky road”, Molik is working hard to give herself the best chance of repeating her success at the 2004 Athens Olympics where she won a singles bronze medal.
“It [winning a medal] is within my sights, absolutely,” said Molik. “If I was going there for the fun of it and just to have a great time I really don't think that's in the Olympic spirit. I think every single athlete goes with a dream and that dream is to win a medal and that's why I'm going.”
Molik can't hide the excitement in her voice when she speaks about her medal-winning performance in Athens four years ago: “Nothing has come even close to that. That eclipses anything that I've ever achieved in my whole entire tennis career. I guess it goes to show what the Olympics means to me.”
The then 23 year old surprised even herself by claiming the bronze, an effort she describes as “a result of pure want and desire”. The 2004 gold and silver medals were won by the recently retired Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo respectively – neither of whom will be in Beijing.
The Beijing field is, according to the ITF, the “strongest field ever”, with 2008 Grand Slam tournament winners Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams all attending.
In recent times, Molik has been hampered by an elbow injury that has persisted for the past 12 months, something she considers “a management type issue”. With this being managed and her fitness at a good level, the South Australian's preparation is almost complete.
A regular visitor to China since 2001, Molik is hoping that her preparation will help her to thrive in Beijing. To prepare herself for the elements, Molik has spent time working out in a heat chamber at the Lexus Centre. On top of this, she will soon travel to Brisbane for a three week training block where she is hoping to meet up with other Olympic athletes preparing for their shot at glory.
Molik will be one of three Australian women vying for singles gold, Samantha Stosur and Australian No.1 Casey Dellacqua, who is making her Olympic debut, will also be making the trip.
Dellacqua, who recently made the French Open doubles final with Francesca Schiavone and the Wimbledon semis with Nathalie Dechy, will be partnering Molilk in the doubles – a combination that could prove formidable. While Molik and Dellacqua have never paired up before, Molik likes their chances. “Her results show she's very dangerous right now … I think we both have games that will complement each other quite well.”
With the tennis event beginning on Sunday 10 August, two days after the opening ceremony, Molik says she is a definite to attend the Games opening – “I will be there, absolutely with bells on.”
In 2004, Molik's Olympic win was a sign of things to come, with the Australian going on to crack the top 10 and reach her career-high ranking of No.8 in early 2005. Molik's many fans will be hoping that the Beijing Olympics will herald the beginning of her second coming.
“To be honest it's been a bit of an uphill battle, but it's one that I'm prepared to try and overcome.”