Olympian Stephanie Rice has broken down in tears while speaking of her relationship heartbreak with SAS Australia star Ant Middleton.
The swimming champion – who won three gold medals at Beijing – shared the emotional details on Wednesday night’s episode after a bad injury almost resulted in her leaving the show.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Stephanie Rice opens up about relationship heartbreak.
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Rice suffered a dislocated shoulder after diving awkwardly to the ground during a tense combat challenge.
After medics popped the shoulder back into place while she was still near the combat site, she was taken to hospital for further treatment.
Despite the setback, Rice was ultimately cleared to return to the SAS course – a move which brought her great relief.
Stephanie Rice suffered a serious injury during Wednesday night’s SAS Australia. Credit: Seven
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While speaking with Chief Inspector Ant, Rice revealed that she had struggled to find “purpose” after retiring from swimming in 2014.
“I really struggled,” she said.
“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.”
When Ant asked about her relationship status and whether she had a partner or any children, Rice broke down and said she was on her own.
“It’s harder,” she said, her voice breaking.
“I think it’d be nice to have somebody to go through the harder times.
“I would love to have somebody to help through, like ride the waves.”
An SAS medic treats Rice’s dislocated shoulder. Credit: Seven
Moved by her emotional reaction, Ant agreed that it “sucks” that she is “by yourself”, adding that “you grow even more” when you can share your life with someone.
The SAS boss then asked what Rice had to look forward to when she returned back home after SAS Australia.
“At the moment, not a lot,” she replied.
Ant then suggested Rice “needed” to complete the SAS course for her own personal journey.
“Yeah, I do need this,” she agreed tearfully.
During their heart-to-heart, Rice spoke about the struggles she faced during the final years of her swimming career.
Rice was emotional as she spoke to Ant Middleton. Credit: Seven
“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.”
She added: “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.”
Ant Middleton and Stephanie Rice on SAS Australia. Credit: Seven
However, since leaving competitive swimming, Rice said she’s struggled to find a clear way forward.
“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.”
Sense of purpose
She said training for SAS Australia had given her the chance to challenge herself in a new way.
“Having this opportunity gave me that purpose of being able to utilise everything I know I’m really good at and put it to the test,” she said.
When her dislocated shoulder meant she may have to withdraw from SAS Australia, Ant noted that Rice appeared to be “absolutely raging” at the thought.
“That was my whole last three years of my swimming career,” she said.
Stephanie Rice won three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. Credit: Getty
“And it’s just so hard to prepare for something and give everything you have to it. And it’s something that happens like one time, like that’s what this is.
“It’s not like I can come back in six months and give it another crack, and that’s really hard to work around psychologically.
She added: “I’m not ready to go. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve really tested myself properly yet.
“And all the challenge that I want to put myself through on this course, to leave before I’ve taken anything from it.
“I want to leave knowing that I took something for myself that I can take home.”
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