Mexico's Maria Espinoza, the taekwondo champion at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, revealed Monday that she is visualizing herself as the London 2012 champ also.

"I'm visualizing myself as the Olympic champion, like four years ago. I'm imagining Aug. 11 as a special day I'm going to enjoy from the moment I get up, happy with the result," the 24-year-old competitor told Efe.

Espinoza said that she is feeling a lot of emotion as she approaches her great challenge and although she feels she will take home the gold medal she is not relaxing because a lot of work remains before she can realize her dream. "It hasn't happened yet and I will still have to experience the day of competition," she said.

Maria will travel on Friday to Barcelona along with her trainer, Cuban Pedro Gato, to finish her preparation for the Games there, far from the media and the stress of the Olympic environment.

On July 27, she will make a short flight to London to carry the Mexican flag at the Games' opening ceremony and then she will return right away to Barcelona to continue working on her speed and the final technical aspects before competing on Aug. 11.

In talking about the competition, Maria showed little emotion regarding the absence of the world champion, France's Gwladys Epangue, from the London Games. Epangue announced her retirement from the sport, and Espinoza said that although she is a great champion the other competitors will be tough.

"She's a very dangerous competitor, someone else will go to the Olympics for her. ... We'll all be in the same shape and with the aim of winning the gold medal," she said.

Last year, Espinoza was not selected for the Mexican team at the Pan American Games, she changed her trainer and was surrounded by a great deal of pressure, but in November she got her Olympic ticket.

"It was a tough year, but when I look back I'm grateful for the learning. Many things happened that taught me to value my life and now I'm stronger," she said.

Espinoza is one of Mexico's main competitors at the London Games, where the country also has a chance to bring home medals in archery, boxing, track and field and soccer. EFE