Rice retires from swimming

9 April 2014

SWIMMING - Triple Olympic champion Stephanie Rice has officially announced her retirement from competitive swimming.

The 25-year-old Beijing gold medallist in the 200m and 400m individual medleys and the 4x200m freestyle, all in world record time, confirmed the news via a video posted on her website on Wednesday.

Injury-plagued Rice has not raced competitively since her unsuccessful 2012 London Games campaign, having undergone three shoulder operations.

She was fourth in the 200m Individual Medley and sixth in the 400mIM when trying to defend her titles.

"London was really tough," she said.

"There were so many things that went wrong for me in that preparation and it was like I was trying so hard to make everything so perfect and everything went wrong.

"Coming off the Games, I really didn't want to make a rash decision on my career and if I was going to keep swimming or not because I was still too emotional about the whole preparation that I'd just been through.

"I felt a lot of pressure to live up to everyone's expectations and fulfil their answers, but I knew I had to take the time for myself to get to the point where I knew 100 per cent what I wanted to do."

Swimming Australia President John Bertrand AM congratulated triple Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice OAM on an outstanding career in the pool.

 “A member of our Australian Swim Team for more than five years, Stephanie achieved the dream of being world’s best in the pool, a dream we are all striving for,” said Bertrand.

“To win one Olympic gold medal is hard enough, but to win three at the same Games is a fantastic achievement and something that will forever be remembered within the sporting fabric of this nation.”

Breaking on to the Australian Swim Team for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Rice won dual gold in the 200 and 400m IM and was a dual bronze medallist at the 2007 World Championships a year later.

Leading up to the Beijing Olympic Games, Rice broke two world records at the Australian Championships in Sydney, before going on to become only the third Australian swimmer ever behind Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe to win three gold medals at the one Olympic Games.

Swimming Australia Performance Director Michael Scott, says Rice’s dedication to training and her ability to race was a key factor in her ability to perform on the international stage.

“A world record holder going into the Olympic Games in Beijing, Stephanie showed the focus, determination and fight to win three gold medals in 2008 and formed a formidable partnership with her coach Michael Bohl,” said Scott.

Rice’s long-time coach and mentor Michael Bohl said her ability to prepare and perform at a major meet really stood out.

“When Steph had a big meet to prepare for, like the Olympic Games, she left no stone unturned,” said Bohl. 

“She really understood the need to prepare at a high level, to perform at a high level, and you could always depend on Steph to deliver at the major meets.

“It’s disappointing that she had to overcome a number of injuries late in her career, because she really loved to compete and compete at her best.” 

Stephanie Rice joined the Australian Swim Team as a 17-year-old and will retire from the sport at age 25.

Rice said she never wanted to make a comeback and was final about her "sad" decision.

"I definitely feel like I'm losing a part of myself but I'm really excited about what's to come," she added.

Rice did not say what she will do next, but declared her intent to "prove myself out of the water".

She is one of just seven Australians to win a treble at a single Olympic Games.

AAP and Swimming Australia

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