Stephanie Rice Into Aussie Hall Of Fame With Tale Of Triple Gold & Silent Struggle

stephaniericebluebig

Stephanie Rice was on the crest of a wave of success when she claimed three Olympic golds at the Beijing 2008 Games. Or so it seemed to the world watching the speed and smiles.

The story had a hidden side: on her way to double medley triumph over 200 and 400m and a share in the 4x200m freestyle gold, Rice was struck down by illness and struggling with the enormous weight of expectation.

Next month, on October 10, the 31-year-old will be inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame. In an interview with Julian Linden of The Australian Daily Telegraph to celebrate the honour, Rice acknowledges that she is only now getting to a place where she feels able to properly reflect on the events of 2008 that changed her life.

Her dream performances may have looked like plain sailing in a fast suit but the reality was anything but, the Olympic roller-coaster of multiple swims and a packed schedule leaving no time to fathom the meaning of success unfolding, let along even contemplate resting on laurels.

“It sort of looked like I was just cruising through without a care in the world, however, behind the scenes, it was so far from perfect,” Rice tells Linden.

“I just remember it being a blur and everything happening so quickly because it’s not just the swimming, it’s the warms ups, the swim downs, getting to the pool, the press conferences, the drug testing, there’s just so much that goes into it. You don’t really get a chance to relax and I was really sick, especially before the 200m medley, then before I knew it, it was all over and I was back in Australia. But when I look back on it now, that’s what makes it so special because you can prove you can do things under so much pressure, so it really was an amazing week.”

Read the article in full at the Australian Daily Telegraph

Rice was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame earlier this year.

ISHOF induction:

When Rice Retired From Racing

Stephanie Rice, who first raced form her nation at 16, retired from racing in 2014 aged 25. The triple Olympic champion officially announced her retirement from competitive swimming in a video statement on her website in 2014.

Injuries brought an end to Rice’s ability to train consistently and her competitiveness in recent years, London 2012 marking the effective end of her career.

“London was really tough,” she told her fans. “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.”

Retirement statement:

Rice said she never wanted to make a comeback and was final about her “sad” decision, adding:

“I definitely feel like I’m losing a part of myself but I’m really excited about what’s to come.”

She was ready to prove herself out of the water.

From the Archive: As Rice Headed To ISHOF…

By Meg Keller-Marvin

Stephanie Rice sits in the company of only six other legendary Australian athletes that have won a total of three gold medals at one Olympic Games.  Five of the other six are also swimmers and all but one are Hall of Famers: Ian Thorpe, Murray Rose, Shane Gould, Petria Thomas and Jodie Henry.

Rice is a two-time Olympian, triple Olympic gold medalist and five-time world record holder.  She excels in all four strokes, making her a very successful IM swimmer for her country.

Rice qualified for Age Group Nationals at about age 13, while swimming for Vince Raleigh at Brothers Swim Club.  Coach Matt Brown took over the coaching of Stephanie for the next year.  While under Brown’s direction, she really began to excel, qualifying her for the Trans-Tasmin Meet and Junior Pan-Pacs in Hawaii (2002).

With Stephanie really starting to make headway in her swimming career, she decided she needed to make a drastic move to help take her to the next level.    That move was to select a new coach that could help her obtain her goals.  That man was Michael Bohl, and it turned out to be the perfect decision for Stephanie.  Bohl and Rice would remain together for the rest of her swimming career.

Stephanie burst onto the international scene in 2006 by winning two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, one in the 200 IM, in a time of 2:12.90 and the second in the 400 IM.  The World Championships, the next year, in 2007, also in Melbourne, were a success for Rice as well.  She took bronze in the 200m IM, in a time of 2:11.42, while breaking the Australian record by an entire second. In the 400, she won her second bronze with a time of 4:41.19, taking 0.54 off her best time.  It was a personal best for Rice.

Stephanie Rice ISHOF Honoree

That same year, Rice attended a meet in Italy, where she posted a new personal best in the 400 IM, swimming a 4:40.79, inching closer and closer to that 4:40 mark.  Next up, the Japanese Open, where she finally hit the 4:40 mark she had been chasing, and in the process, setting a new Australian and Commonwealth record with a time 4:37.18.

In March 2008, Rice competed at the Australian Olympic Trials and broke the world record in the 200- and 400-meter IM, winning the events and qualifying for her first Olympic Team.  In the 200 IM, she swam in a time of 2:08.92, taking almost an entire second off the previous record, set by Wu Yanyan of China.  In the 400, Rice came in at 4:31.46, 1.43 seconds below American Katie Hoff’s mark of 4:32.89.

As a first-time member of the Australian Olympic Team in 2008, Stephanie Rice proved her place on the team, by winning three gold medals and breaking three world records in Beijing.  She received her first-ever Olympic medal, also Australia’s first gold medal of the Games and it’s 400th Summer Olympic medal, when she won the 400-meter IM, becoming the first woman to break 4:30 in the event.  Her second gold came in the 200 IM, where she was neck and neck with Kristi Coventry for the last 50 meters, but Stephanie pulled it off at the last second.  The 200 IM was followed by the women’s 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay, where she was the lead off swimmer.

Stephanie Rice ISHOF Honoree

Photo Caption: 2008 Gold Medal Relay

Stephanie was awarded “Female Swimmer of the Meet”, alongside Michael Phelps, and on January 26, 2009, she received the prestigious “Order of Australia Medal.”

The 2008 Beijing Olympics were probably the high point in Stephanie Rice’s career, but what most didn’t know, there was something taking away from all the glory.  Stephanie first started experiencing shoulder pain during the 2008 Games.  She competed in the 2009 FINA World Championships (Rome) and came away with two silver in the 200 IM and the 4 x 100 medley relay and one bronze.

Stephanie Rice World Record

She continued to endure shoulder pain in 2009, but by 2010, it was so bad, she relented to having surgery.  This forced her to have to miss out on the 2010 Pan-Pac and Commonwealth Games, which she had already qualified for.

Stephanie’s surgery was a success and by 2011, she was fully committed to her rehabilitation and training regime and was ready to begin preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Leading up to the Olympics, Stephanie competed in the 2011 FINA World Champions in Shanghai.  She did not medal in the 200 IM, finishing fourth in a time of 2:09.65, but she took bronze in the 400 IM, barely missing silver by 0.01, in a time of 4:34.23.

Everything was going well for Rice, until December of 2011, when she tore a tendon in her shoulder.  Tests showed that Rice needed surgery with a six-month recovery, but with the London Olympics Trials only ten weeks away, that was just not possible.  With her doctors and coach, Stephanie decided to have a smaller surgery, that would hopefully hold her over until after the Olympic Games.

Stephanie performed extremely well at the Trials, considering she had just undergone two surgeries and then a quick training of six weeks to get her ready for the Trials.  She won both IM events, the 200 and 400 and qualified for the freestyle relay event.

Stephanie Rice and Kobe Bryant

Stephanie and basketball legend Kobe Bryant; Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Rice

There were 12 weeks between the 2012 Australian Trials and the 2012 London Olympic Games.  As Stephanie got in the pool to practice, the pain in her shoulder continued to get worse with every stroke.  She went from training 60k a week to 30k, and barely making that.  She tried making up time out of the water with dryland training to help her stay in shape.  And just when Stephanie thought things could not get any worse, she got a terrible bout of food poisoning which kept her off training for three days and took away all her energy.  As anyone can imagine, it was an emotionally trying time for Stephanie.

She headed to London, with three shoulder surgeries behind her and knew that she was not in the shape she hoped for or was close to in Beijing four years earlier.  Stephanie Rice left London with a fourth-place finish in the 200 IM and a sixth-place finish in the 400 IM.  Based on what she had been able to put in to her training or more like, what she had not been able to put into her training, she was proud of her results and knew she could not have tried harder or done any better, considering all the roadblocks that were thrown her way.

Stephanie announced her retirement from swimming at the age of 24, in 2014.  She went on to compete in and win the Australian TV Show “Celebrity Apprentice” that same year, becoming the youngest winner of the series franchise worldwide.

Stephanie continued working to make her dreams a reality, this time, just in a different realm.  This young entrepreneur co-authored her own book, “The Art of Wellness;” created three on-line programs in health, mindset and swimming; and launched her first food business, called RACERiCE.  She is an ambassador for numerous well-known international brands, such as Vegie Delights and Unichi and is working on business ventures in the United States, China and India.  She has also worked with global companies like Fitness First and Khloe Kardashian’s Good American.

Stephanie Rice Twitter

Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Rice

Stephanie’s passion in life is to share her wealth of knowledge and her insights to positively impact others’ lives and inspire them to be the best they can be.  She does this in several ways, such as her mentoring programs, speaking engagements, social media and most recently, her current work in India.  Stephanie is stepping back into the world of swimming, and along with her coach, Michael Bohl, planning to build Learn-to-Swim programs all throughout India.  In addition, they plan to develop the “Stephanie Rice Elite Academy,” with the goal of producing India’s very first Olympic swimming medalist in eight to twelve-years’ time.

 

 

Tributes

The finest tributes often came from those who worked most closely with achievers, guiding and helping them to reach their potential. Rice’s long-time coach and mentor Michael Bohl said her ability to prepare and perform at a major meet was outstanding:

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

He added: “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.”

Swimming Australia’s tribute to Rice:

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.

stephanieRICE

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.

Then with Swimming Australia as performance head, Michael Scott said that 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.

 

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Shawn Laari

    Your article says that Gould and Thorpe were the only two Australian swimmers to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games before Rice.

    Murray Rose won the 400 and 1500, and 800 relay golds in 1956.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.