India can do well in swimming: Rice

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Says it should take a leaf out of South Korea’s book

Stephanie Rice turned heads at the Mayfair Convention Center here over the weekend. Many recognised the dark-haired, tall stunner from her television appearances as an anchor for ProKabaddi League.

Ten years ago, the Australian swimmer had surprised the world when she won three gold medals with World-record timing at the Beijing Olympics. But, shortly after she struggled at the London Olympics in 2012 with shoulder injuries. She retired at the age of 24.

Now she is enjoying her life after sports. Besides doing television, she conducts swimming clinics; she has done quite a few of them in India and is keen to help the country make a splash at the global arena.

“There is no reason why India cannot do well in swimming,” Rice, who was one of the speakers at the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival organised by the Government of Odisha and Emerging Sports, told The Hindu.

Rice feels there is a lot of potential in India. “I have come across some promising swimmers through the clinics I have conducted here,” she said. “They have good technique, but needed to be trained by coaches who have trained high profile swimmers.”

“I feel India could take a leaf out of South Korea’s book on swimming. They used to send 10 or 12 of their swimmers to train with us in Australia and then our coaches would go to Korea,” she said. “That is the way to start for India.”

She said the Indian administrators have to be serious, first. “I have visited India for seven times and I have been asked by the authorities here eight times to help them, but nothing has happened so far,” she said.

Looking back at her career, she said she didn’t imagine that she would do that well in the 2008 Olympics. “All those three golds were special and nothing less than a dream-coming-true,” she said.

She said the decision to quit, in 2012, was not easy. “It was tough emotionally,” she said. “But I didn’t see myself swimming for another four years (till the Rio Olympics). It took me three or four years to discover what I enjoyed doing.”

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