ALICIA McCormack is hoping her new shoulders can help her go one better in the water polo pool at the London Olympics.
The tough Cronulla Sharks goalkeeper, used to stopping shots thrown at her at 65-70 kilometres per hour, was left disappointed at the Beijing Olympics.
After playing a sizeable part in getting the Australian Stingers to the finals, she was left out of the team to contest the bronze medal game, with the team's other goalkeeper, Victoria Brown, given that position.
Australia won the Olympic bronze medal play-off, but McCormack said: "I felt like I'd missed out on gold."
This time McCormack, now 29, has dominated team goalie preparations leading up to London, after successful shoulder surgery following Beijing.
When she was chosen in the Olympics team for London she told her coach one answer to his questions: "I want to play, and I want to win a gold medal."
McCormack has come a long way since she first started surfing at Stanwell Park, near her Helensburgh home, and swam competitively with the Sutherland Aquadot Club — home to the likes of Ian Thorpe and Craig Stevens.
She came across to water polo through friend Melissa Bedwell, and while attending Kirrawee High — one of the best water polo schools in Sydney.
McCormack quickly established herself with the Cronulla Sharks club, and later in the new National League, where she helped her team win premiership titles — even taking over as women's team coach while she allowed her shoulder time to heal.
But since last year, she has had her eye on London, and a final hurrah, putting it all together as a dominating force in the national league finals this season as she led Cronulla to victory again.
So inspiring was she in goal that her performance earned her the nickname "The Rock".
Since then the team has played and won the Olympic Test tournament in London, with her Cronulla teammates Nicola Zagame and Holly Lincoln-Smith also winning Olympics team selection.
McCormack, who has now clocked up more than 200 internationals, says this Olympics team is a medal force to be reckoned with.
"The younger members from Beijing are now more experienced," she said before flying to London.
"And 'Dumper' [coach Greg McFadden] has played around with the squad to provide the girls with plenty of opportunities leading into London.
"I love the feel of this team, from the most experienced player Melissa Rippon [300 internationals] down. We hold each other accountable, too.
"It is a different excitement for me. I know what to expect in London.
"Four years on, I think I'm smarter and read the game better.
"But there won't be any easy games for us. All countries will be tough, such is the strength of water polo around the world since women first started playing [in the Sydney 2000 Olympics]."