Medical science holds the key to Stephanie Rice’s future.
If the triple gold medallist cannot find a surgeon who can fix her troublesome right shoulder the goggles will go on the hook forever.
A tearful Rice admitted her illustrious swimming career was probably over following her fourth place in the 200m individual medley at the London 2012 aquatic centre.
The 24-year-old’s journey to these Olympic Games was full of pain and disappointment and she revealed following her swim she couldn’t stand any more discomfort to strive for Rio 2016.
“I’m in a tough position now having to analyse what I want to do because I love swimming and I love competing and representing Australia but if operations are like the ones I just had there is no way in the world I can keep it up,” Rice said in reference to the surgery she underwent in January to improve her Games’ bid.
“I don’t know if I could prepare again for another time around under these circumstances.
“If I was to continue in the sport I would need some sort of surgery whether it is a reconstruction or a cleanout that is something I will have to weigh up when I finish. It’s whether I can go through a whole lot of surgery again.
“I will need to take a break just to get my head in the right frame of mind. I would hate to make a decision, a rapid decision on quitting the sport which I think a few people do.”
Rice will stick with the Australian team until the end of these Games then embark on a long holiday to decide her fate.
She will also consult long-timer coach Michael Bohl, who turned the Queenslander into a golden girl at Olympic level.
Bohl also nursed his charge through the most difficult time of her life, which included a split from boyfriend, Wallaby five-eighth Quade Cooper.
“I’ve always said I could never be someone who quits the sport and comes back because I think it is time to move on if it is time to end,” Rice mused.
“I’d hate to finish on disappointment but at the same time I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my swimming career and obviously happy with the person I’ve turned into after this really hard preparation.”
While she would be devastated to bow out on setback, Rice was immensely proud of her ability to qualify for a second Olympics.
However, she said her preparation for the second Games was far from as good as her first which helped deliver a trio of gold medals – 200m and 400m individual medley and the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
“Obviously I can sit here and say so many things went wrong and that is the reason I didn’t do well,” Rice said.
“But at the end of the day I did everything I could in this preparation.
“I know I wouldn’t be standing her without an amazing coach who has supported me and helped me through a lot as well as physios and family.”
China’ Ye Shiwen won the 200m individual medley in London in 2mins. 07.57sec. Australian Alicia Coutts took the silver (2:08.15). Rice clocked 2:09.55, missing third spot by 1.38s.