FOR the past two years, Samantha Hamill has not been at her best - raising questions of how she will perform at the London Olympics.
Since the Delhi Commonwealth Games, the 21-year-old Kawana Waters club member has been hampered by a shoulder complaint, one she will wrestle with right up until she sets foot on the blocks for the 200m butterfly.
She is still on painkillers and will be until the day before her first race.
She may also require surgery after the Games.
The niggling injury almost cost her a spot at the Games.
She scraped inside the Olympic A-qualifying time at the Australian Swimming Championships, which doubled as the Olympic trials, by just 0.03 of a second.
Her time of 2min08.92sec belied her enormous talent and in the end she booked her ticket to London on pure determination.
She was obviously not at her peak then - evidenced by the fact she missed selection for the 400IM, which she finished second in at Delhi.
Her 200m butter-fly time at the Australian championships was also nearly three seconds slower than her personal best of 2:05.99, which she set when she finished eighth at the 2009 World Championships as an 18-year-old.
Although that performance gave a hint of great things to come, from there Hamill has been stalled by injury and illness. One person who has seen the highs and lows of her career better than any is her mum, Christine.
She says the doggedness her daughter has displayed to make her second Olympics is indicative of Samantha's personality.
"Sam has always been determined. She's always wanted to win," Christine told the Daily this week before heading to London.
"She's just going to go there and just try to get through ... she's just trying to make the finals. That's her aim - to make the finals. It's a tough final too."
There has been an unfortunate pattern of Hamill's career - she is obviously an athlete of tremendous potential, but she has suffered injury and illness at inopportune times.
At the 2011 World Championships she was stuck down by a mystery illness. She took to the pool but was so spent after the 400IM heats that she had to helped from the water by officials.
Christine said she could not do much else than hope for the best and pray some luck ran Sam's way.
"She's improving every time she competes," she said.
"We're just keeping our fingers crossed."
Coach: Peter Gartrell
Club: Kawana Waters
Event: 200m butterfly
Personal best: 2:05.99
Career achievements: 2008 Olympics, 12th 200m butterfly, 22nd 400m IM; 2009 World Championships, 8th 200m butterfly, 9th 400m IM; 2010 Commonwealth Games, 2nd 400m IM, 5th 200m butterfly.
TV Schedule: July 31, from 7pm, heats; August 1 from 4.30am, semis; August 2 from 4.30am, final.
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