Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice chose a unique way to retire, announcing the end of her career via video spliced with childhood photos, career highlights and portions of the 2012 pop rock hit “Hall of Fame” by The Script featuring will.i.am.
Rice had not swum competitively since the 2012 Olympics.
“I never wanted to make a comeback, so the decision that I wanted to make was definitely final,” Rice said in the video published Tuesday. “Coming to that point today and not continuing my swimming career, it’s sad.”
Rice, 25, won triple gold at the 2008 Olympics, sweeping the individual medleys and as part of the Australian 4x200m freestyle relay team, all in world record times.
“A complete shock and the best moment I could have ever experienced,” Rice said. “It would have been really easy to walk away after Beijing and call it a day there. But I just felt like I had so much more to prove as an athlete. Had I known what I was going to go through [between the 2008 and 2012 Olympics] with three shoulder operations and a load more ups and downs, I probably would have [retired], but I’m so glad that I really stuck through it.”
Rice finished fourth in the 200m individual medley and tied for sixth in the 400m individual medley at the 2012 Olympics. The shoulder injuries hampered her form leading into her second Olympics.
“London was really tough,” Rice said. “There were so many things that went wrong for me in that preparation. It was like I was trying so hard to make everything so perfect, and everything went wrong.”
She said in 2011 that she would likely retire after the London Games but took her time to officially call it a career.
After nearly a year off, she gave herself a deadline of late 2013/early 2014 to get back in the water to contend for a spot on Australia’s Commonwealth Games team later this summer. The Australian trials for the Commonwealth Games concluded over the weekend. She did not participate.
“Coming off the Games, I really didn’t want to make a rash decision on my career and whether I was going to keep swimming or not, because I was still too emotional about the whole preparation I had just been through,” said Rice, who had roles on Australia’s “Today” Show and “Celebrity Apprentice” during her break. “I felt a lot of pressure to live up to everyone’s expectations and fulfill their answers, but I knew that I really had to take the time for myself to get to the point where I knew 100 percent what I wanted to do.”
Rice’s expected retirement came on the same day that nine-time Olympic medalist Ian Thorpe‘s agent said he thought Thorpe would never swim competitively again.
Rice and Thorpe were two pillars of Australian swimming during the height of their rivalry with the U.S. over the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Thorpe was the most decorated Australian men’s swimmer in 2000 and 2004. Rice won more golds than any other Australian women’s swimmer in 2008.
“I definitely feel like I’m losing a part of myself, but I’m really excited for what’s to come,” Rice said. “It’s safe to say that that’s the new goal, a new passion for me is to prove myself out of the water.”