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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Exclusive - Biggest thing lacking in India is good swimming coaches, says former Olympic champion Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice also spoke at length about Australia’s swimming culture and who according to her is the best Olympian of all time.

other-sports Updated: Nov 03, 2018 15:33 IST
Arnab Sen
Arnab Sen
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
File image of former Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice speaking during a press conference.
File image of former Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice speaking during a press conference.(Getty Images)

India’s track record in swimming at a global level has not been anything to write home about. While there have been talented swimmers who have made the occasional splash, but Indian swimming still has a lot to achieve at the international level. Former multiple Olympic champion Stephanie Rice of Australia believes that lack of world class coaching has pegged Indian swimmers back for many years now.

“I think the biggest thing lacking in India in the swimming space is coaching. In Australia we have the best coaches in the world and that’s why we do so well.”

“There is a lot of opportunity for India to do well in swimming because there are so many athletes. India need to invest in good coaches and also need depth.”

“Whenever you hear about a promising Indian swimmer, he or she is training abroad. You need to keep them in India and build a strong pool of swimmers. I see that happening in India now and want to be a part of that development,” the three-time Beijing Olympic gold medallist told Hindustan Times during an exclusive conversation on the sidelines of the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival. 

Talking about the best athlete in the world that she has seen, the Australian said that she was fortunate to compete in the same Olympics as USA’s Michael Phelps, who holds the world record for most medals won by an athlete in the history of Olympic Games. Phelps won 28 medals during his illustrious Olympics career which included 23 gold medals.

“Someone like Michael Phelps, I think he is the world’s greatest athlete. I was so fortunate to compete alongside him.”

“To watch both Phelps and Usain Bolt coming up at the same time made for a few extraordinary Games,” the swimming sensation added.

Speaking about what goes into making an Olympic champion, Rice stressed on the need to be mentally tough to succeed at a global level.

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE - Virat Kohli is more versatile & tougher than Sachin Tendulkar: Jeff Thomson

“Talent definitely plays a huge part...but one needs to be tough, passionate and dedicated and hardworking to succeed. Mental toughness leads to confidence in one’s abilities and that’s what superstars have.”

Talking about the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, Rice said that the fight in the pool for the maximum medals will be between heavyweights USA & China.

“Australia always does well in the pool so I hope they will do so again. But we are struggling at the moment. The US always dominate because of their depth and China has produced excellent young swimmers, so that is where the fight will be,” the champion swimmer signed off.