Olympic swimming champion Stephanie Rice has uprooted her life in Australia just months after an injury-hit appearance on SAS Australia.
The 35-year-old triple gold medallist said she has moved to Dubai “on a one-way ticket”.
Rice had dropped hints of a pending shake-up in recent weeks but the destination was kept secret until an update during her flight to the UAE.
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Just why Rice decided on Dubai remains unclear — as is what she will be doing after settling in.
“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.
“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.”
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Rice, who is religious and said she recently became Christian, said she had long considered moving overseas but “it just was never quite the right time”.
She suggested she also landed without having locked in a long-term home.
Rice has left her life in Australia. Credit: Instagram
“It was a stressful few days running around trying to find somewhere I felt comfortable, peaceful and safe, but I found it,” Rice wrote.
“I’m so excited to move in tomorrow and unpack all the things and get set up in a daily routine. Those daily rituals, like a morning coffee, gym, healthy breakfast, reading daily are so important to me.
“It grounds me in and brings me strength, peace, calmness, energy, focus… which I haven’t felt for a few weeks with the move, packing up life in Australia and uncertainty since landing.
“Now that I have that step checked off I’m excited to see where god leads me next.”
The attached photo showed Rice on a balcony looking out towards the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
The Olympic gold medallist said she is in Dubai without a plan. Credit: InstagramRice was in tears on the plane. Credit: Instagram
The former swimmer’s move comes after she opened up on her life and relationship heartbreak on SAS Australia this year.
“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,” Rice said on the show.
Her post-retirement struggles had previously been stirred up while she was working as a swimming expert during the Tokyo Olympics.
Rice said she still felt “lost, depressed and irrelevant” nearly 10 years after retiring at the age of just 24.
“For me, transitioning was f***ing hard … and still is at times,” she said in 2021.
“After swimming, I felt lost, depressed, irrelevant and as though I had achieved the pinnacle of my life at 24 and everything moving forward would be far less exciting and special.”
Stephanie Rice won three Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. Credit: Getty
Since then Rice has been completing a Master of Business Administration, while her time on SAS Australia brought back familiar injury troubles.
She said she had been “really, really low” in life recently — even after booking in her move to Dubai.
Rice thanked followers for supportive messages and also addressed some criticism left on her posts.
“I feel it’s always been very important for me to share very openly,” she said.
“I’m highly aware, and one of the struggles I had in moving to Christianity was just how that would be received publicly.
“My life has always been public and I’m no stranger to receiving criticism or people that just don’t agree. And that’s ok. I’ve made my piece with that.
“I appreciate the love and support I get, I also see people who don’t have nice things to say and I’m just moving through that in my own time and asking for a bit of grace.”