Aussie swimming champ Stephanie Rice has broken down in tears as her private demons were raised again during her final appearance on SAS: Australia.
The three-time gold medallist was left in tears and needed to be comforted by the show’s chief drill sergeant as she was kicked out of the reality TV competition in a fashion never seen before.
The program’s director, soldier Ant Middleton, honourably discharged Rice from the competition and allowed the 35-year-old to leave the course with her No. 11 badge — something he said had never happened on the show previously.
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Rice was ordered to quit under medical grounds because she risked serious injury while trying to manage her long-term shoulder injuries that had flared since the show began.
The Olympic Gold Medalist dislocated her shoulder during the previous week’s episode while handling a live grenade during a challenge.
Rice clearly has baggage about the injury, after it crippled her 2012 London Olympics campaign and ultimately ended her swimming career at the age of just 26.
She was forced to confront her secret torment on the show after she was told she would not be allowed to continue to run the torturous course as a result of the injury.
She as told she had disregarded instructions while trying to soldier on during an exercise and was a “risk to herself”.
She earlier said she had “popped a rib out in my back”.
She was in tears when told she was being taken off the course.
“This is exactly what happened to me before at the London Olympics,” she said.
“So it’s just so frustrating.”
Rice had the swimming world at her feet after winning three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics — but she was never able to get back to those heights because of injuries.
The chief instructor said leaving with her number was a “distinguished honour” showing her incredible fighting spirit.
“When I think about being a fighter in terms of being resilient and being strong and pushing through adversity. Absolutely I am that kind of fighter,” she said.
“Quitting to me is not an option.”
In the end the decision was taken out of her hands as she became the fifth contestant to leave the series in this year’s season.
It comes after Rice last week revealed sad details about her private life.
The three-time gold medallist was left in tears as she detailed her relationships in a heartbreaking interview.
Rice sat down with SAS Middleton where she revealed she had battled with sad moments since 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.
“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.
“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.”
But it was when the conversation moved to Rice’s personal life and her relationship status that the Olympian broke down.
“It’s harder,” she said as her voice began to break.
“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.”
Middleton then asked the Aussie swim star what she had to look forward to when she returned home after the show, the answer was heartbreaking.
“At the moment, not a lot,” she replied.
Rice’s love life has previously made headlines around the world.
After splitting from Aussie swimming great Eamonn Sullivan following the Beijing Olympics, rumours spread Rice had been romantically linked with Michael Phelps, former NRL winger David “Wolfman” Williams and Aussie swimming bad boy Nic D’Arcy.
Middleton suggested Rice “needed” to complete the SAS course for her own personal journey.
“Yeah, I do need this,” she agreed tearfully.
Rice opened up about the struggles she faced during the final years of her swimming career and how she wanted her final Olympics to be over before they even began.
“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.”