Knox relishing last water polo Games tilt

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Bronwen Knox might have started her record fourth Olympic water polo campaign craving redemption and another medal after Australia's disappointing fifth place in Rio.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

Now the day before the Stingers fly to Tokyo, the 35-year-old dual bronze medallist is proud she's made the call on when her stellar career ends.

Knox nearly called it quits last year when the Olympics were postponed, but honest conversations with teammates made her realise she was not alone.

"We're feeling exactly the same and having that solidarity, knowing that it's not just me, that it's the circumstance and we are in it together," Knox said.

"Also, I really enjoy playing. I want to move on in my own terms and not be forced into having played my last game without knowing it.

"It's definitely changed to just going out there and playing again, pushing those limits and seeing what this team can do."

Knox is about to become the first Australian woman to compete in water polo at four Olympics.

She took a sabbatical in 2017 and then had more time out last year when the Games were put on hold.

When it came time last year to push for her fourth Olympics selection, younger teammates were also pressing their claims.

"There were definitely days when I thought 'why am I doing this to myself? Why do I keep punishing my body and my emotional world?'," she said.

"I'm so glad I stuck with it and waded through the rough waters to be able to have this chance to play again."

The Stingers have not played a proper international match since January last year, while rivals have enjoyed a more normal preparation.

Again, Knox says it all comes down to how the Australians approach Tokyo.

"It's going to be good and bad, because we'll be out to hopefully surprise a few people, given that no-one's seen what we've been working on," she said.

"It's a great way to look at it, just being able to focus on what we want to do."

The absence of international preparation means that Tokyo still seems distant.

The veteran of three Olympics almost feels like a rookie again.

"It's this far-off thing, the Olympic Games - you only really talk about it. It's mythical, it's out there and you're not really sure it's even real any more," Knox said.

"Making that final step of packing up, getting on that plane and heading there, it will all start to really sink in.

"It's amazing to think you can be this excited and energised for something you've done before."

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