25-year old Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice announced her retirement early Wednesday morning (Australia time) in a video on her personal YouTube channel.
Rice is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, having won the 200 IM, the 400 IM, and the 800 free relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at just 20 years old.
Despite being one of that meet’s golden girls and still young enough to expect more from her career, she never really was able to achieve that level of success again. In 2009, she won silver in the 200 IM and bronze in the 400 IM, and then in 2010 the first of what would become three shoulder surgeries would cost her the Pan Pac Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
“Had I known what I was going tof go through with three shoulder operations and a lot of ups and downs, I probably would have,” said Rice in her announcement while discussing pondering retirement after the 2008 Olympics.
She came back to some levels of success after that first operation, taking bronze in the 400 IM at the 2011 World Championships. At the 2012 London Olympics, after more surgeries and a lot of hardship leading up to the Games, Rice placed 4th in the 200 IM and 6th in the 400 IM.
Rice says that after the 2012 Olympics, while she didn’t immediately retire officially, she wanted to take some time to think about the decision. She says in her video that she still had a lot of emotion about those games, and didn’t want that to cloud her judgement, and specifically said that she “never wanted to make a comeback,” so it was important to her that her decision be final.
But after not competing in 2013, and again being absent at last week’s selection trials, Rice’s decision was clear, and confirmed Wednesday with the video announcement.
“I’ll never forget when someone said to me: ‘what if swimming is just a platform to something else?’ And I guess I never thought about it that way, so it’s safe to say that that’s the new goal and the new passion for me, to prove myself out of the water; but to everyone who has supported me along an incredible journey, thank you so very much, I definitely couldn’t have done it without you guys.”