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Updated: 31/05/2012 14:19 | By pa.press.net

Australia: Stephanie Rice



Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice on her way to victory at Beijing 2008. (© Press Association)

Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice on her way to victory at Beijing 2008.

Born: 17/06/1988

Place of birth: Brisbane, Australia

Event: Swimming

Previous Olympics: 1

Previous medals: 3

Winning three Olympic gold medals in world record time, being named World Swimmer of the Year ahead of Michael Phelps and receiving the Most Outstanding Female Athlete award at the Beijing 2008 Games - these are the sort of accolades that most athletes can only dream of.

Not Stephanie Rice. She's already done it all, and before she has even reached her mid-20s.

Rice, who joined her first swimming club aged nine in her home town of Brisbane, can put a lot of her success down to her athletic 1.76 metres and 68 kilogram frame, but she also gives a lot of credit to her relationship with her coach, Michael Bohl.

Bohl has a great track record when it comes to coaching Olympic medal winners, having guided fellow Australians Nicholas Sprenger and Glen Housman to glory.

"Bohly helps me become the person that I want to be, in and out of the pool, and he guides and inspires me to be the best I can be," Rice told her official website.

Despite her early success and the support of her mentor, it has not all been straightforward for the Australian, however.

Her triple Olympic triumph in Beijing four years ago - where she won the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 4x200m freestyle relay - propelled her into the celebrity world, and she soon found herself making headlines in the newspapers for the wrong reasons.

Her love life was anything but private as break-ups with fellow Australian swimmer Eamon Sullivan and Wallaby rugby player Quade Cooper became public knowledge.

The fall-out from her 2008 glory also led to what Rice admits was a "blow-out" year in 2009, where she said she gained weight and failed to train as hard as she should have in preparation for competitions.

However, despite Rice admitting her out-of-the-pool problems, she still managed to come away from the 2009 World Championships in Rome with two silver medals and one bronze.

Rice found herself back in the newspapers two years after her Olympic success following an inappropriate post on social networking site Twitter that cost her public respect, as well as several lucrative sponsorship deals.

In conjunction with severe injury problems, Rice's career did not seem to be going to plan.

After two operations on her shoulder to fix a recurring injury, she got back to a gruelling training regime. Bohl, who claims Rice is "one of the hardest workers" he has come across, prepared a punishing schedule, which includes a 5.30am wake-up call, two 5-7 kilometre swims and a 90-minute gym session.

In 2009, Rice was quoted as saying she had four years left before she retired from competitive sport, but if she can rediscover the determination and will power that she had in Beijing, that list of accolades could become a lot longer.

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