SAS Australia's Stephanie Rice breaks down in tears over post-retirement struggles

Stephanie Rice said she 'really struggled' when she gave up swimming at 24.

Australian Olympic swimming legend Stephanie Rice has broken down in tears as she spoke candidly about her relationship and career struggles. The 34-year-old is currently appearing on Channel 7’s SAS Australia, where she was grilled about her life post-retirement while she sat in the medic’s office after dislocating her shoulder.

The three-time gold medalist got emotional as she detailed how hard things have been for her throughout the past ten years since she retired in 2014.

“I really struggled. I felt really lost after I finished swimming. I didn't feel like I had any purpose or any direction and I didn't feel like anybody understood,” she told Ant Middleton on the show.

Stephanie Rice on SAS Australia 2023
Stephanie Rice has broken down in tears on SAS Australia. Photo: Channel 7

When asked if she’s still struggling now, nearly ten years after her retirement, Stephanie said ‘it’s harder’.

“It’d be nice to have somebody to go through the harder times with,’ she said, with Ant agreeing that it ‘sucks’.

“I would love to have somebody to help ride the waves,” she said.


Ant continued, asking Stephanie what she has at home to go back to once the show is over.

“At the moment, not a lot,” she said tearfully.

Stephanie Rice holding up her Olympics medal
The three-time gold medal winner got emotional when she was grilled about life after retirement. Photo: Getty Images
Stephanie Rice crying on the ground on SAS Australia
She dislocated her shoulder during an intense challenge on the Channel 7 show. Photo: Channel 7

Medically cleared and determined to return to the course, Stephanie opened up about the disappointment of the 2012 London Olympics.

“Eight months out of the London Olympics, I tore the tendons in my shoulder,” she said. "I remember sitting down with a physio and he said that I would need surgery to recover it.

“My goal was to compete at the London Olympics, whether I had a torn tendon in my shoulder or not. I was not going to miss that opportunity. I trained through pain every single day.

“When I think about failure, I would think about the London Olympics. Everything went wrong. I got injured, I got sick. I needed a break to step away from swimming. Things didn’t align the way I knew they could have.

“I just remember really longing for it to be over. And that was the day of the opening ceremony, just wanting it to be done. I couldn’t wait for it to be over so I could actually take a break.”

Stephanie Rice on SAS Australia
SAS Australia is down to the final 10 recruits. Photo: Channel 7

Ant Middleton seemed surprised when she said she hadn’t found a purpose since her swimming career came to an end.

“I felt like I haven’t really trained for anything since I finished competing - like I haven’t really had a goal to work towards, one specific thing,” she said.

“Having an athletic goal is something I know how to do. I know how to prep for that. I know how to train and push myself and I’ve always loved that feeling.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever find something that was the same as what swimming was.”

Stephanie said she wasn’t ready to leave the competition because she feels like she hasn’t ‘tested herself properly'.

“And all the challenge that I want to put myself through on this course, to leave before I’ve taken anything from it,” she said.

“I want to leave knowing that I took something for myself that I can take home.”

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