Olympic swimming champion Stephanie Rice has announced her new love publicly, just months after moving her life to the United Arab Emirates.
The 35-year-old triple gold medallist said earlier this month that she moved to Dubai “on a one-way ticket”.
And if that wasn’t already enough of a life shake-up, Rice has now gone public with a new relationship.
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“I never would have expected the year to end this way!!” Rice, who recently turned to Christianity, wrote.
“Giving my life to God, following his call to move my life to Dubai, meeting you on my first week at church in Brisbane and spending our first Christmas together in New York.
“I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this. You just have to keep faith in his plan and in his timing.
“God is so so good and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for 2024.”
Rice had dropped hints of a pending change in the weeks leading up to her move, but the destination was kept secret until an update during her flight to the UAE.
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Rice has left her life in Australia. Credit: Instagram
Just why Rice decided on Dubai remains unclear.
“The past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, which have brought about so many wonderful changes which I’m excited to share with you as I start this new journey in Dubai,” she wrote at the time.
“I’m sure you all have a lot of questions about this move and trust that I will share it with you in due course. At this stage I have no set plans yet in Dubai, which is a little scary, I just knew I needed to follow this calling from deep within.”
The former swimmer, who retired from the sport at 24, added that she had long considered moving overseas but “it just was never quite the right time”.
The Olympic gold medallist said she is in Dubai without a plan. Credit: Instagram
But after pulling the trigger in recent weeks, and sharing some of the journey on Instagram, she received a barrage of hateful comments on her public Instagram profile.
Responding to the comments, she said her faith was unwavering.
“We’ve all been broken at some point, some more than others … but never let that dampen your ability to shine love out into the world and onto others,” Rice wrote.
Stephanie Rice has responded to the negative comments. Credit: Instagram
“I see the negative comments on my recent posts, but what I feel is the hurt that must be behind those comments.
“My commitment to God is a new walk for me; I have fears, I have doubts, I have concerns … but I also know that the way I was moving through life before is not how I want to go forward.
“This year has been incredibly challenging and at many times I’ve felt broken, but God has given me the gift of his trust in me, his faith in me, and his love for me.
“So, to those struggling: stand strong, walk proud, you’ve come so far. Honour your journey, wounds and all — it’s made you into the beautiful soul you are today.”