Beach volleyballer Natalie Cook says the joy of qualifying for her fifth consecutive Olympics surpasses even the elation of wining her only gold-medal in front of a home crowd at the Sydney Games.
Cook will next month create history as the only Australian woman to compete at five Olympics after securing a spot at London with Tamsin Hinchley by winning the qualifying event in China on Sunday.
Cook and her Beijing Games partner Hinchley were left to battle it out in the Continental Cup having failed to secure an automatic Olympic place as a top 16-ranked team.
Only one spot was on offer for the 26 teams contesting the tournament in Fuzhou and Cook believes the nerve-wracking, all-or-nothing event was the perfect preparation for London.
"I think the pressure from the last week - we were going through emotions of fear and excitment and anxiety and joy - and I remember feeling all of that in Sydney when we won the gold medal," Cook, who won the event with Kerri Pottharst in 2000, told AAP on Monday.
"This week was the same pressure if not more because if you lose you don't 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 Pottharst's famous victory on Sydney's Bondi Beach is etched in the memories of many Australians as one of the iconic images of the 2000 Games but Cook said booking her ticket to London was more poignant.
"The tears yesterday - I don't think I've sobbed like that ever before, not even when we won in Sydney," she 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."
Cook, who won bronze in her first Games in Atlanta in 1996, finished fourth with Hinchley in Beijing and is looking for nothing less than a top spot this year, with London to be the 37-year-old's Olympic swan song.
"Definitely gold is the aim. Tamsin hasn't won a medal yet and that is absolutely the goal - to take away something to show for all of your hard work, " Cook said.
"Brazil, China the US are some of the top teams over there that we'll have to knock off to to do that.
"So it's a case of who can hold their nerve the best and the practice we had this last week has been priceless for that."