Tearful end … Stephanie Rice becomes emotional while speaking to Channel Nine. Considering her future … Stephanie Rice.

A highly emotional Stephanie Rice said on Tuesday night she will take a break from the sport and consider whether her career is over after frustratingly being unable to perform to her optimum at the London Games.

As was the case in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, Rice was again unable to defend her Olympic title, this time in the 200m IM, finishing a courageous fourth behind China’s Ye Shiwen, just 0.60 away from the bronze medal.

Speaking after the race, Rice battled to fight back tears, but it was a battle she would ultimately lose, breaking down as she spoke about the difficulty of her Olympic preparation due to a nagging shoulder tendon injury.

“I need to take a break to get my head back in the right frame of mind,” Rice said. “I’d hate to make a rapid decision on quitting the sport which a few people do.

“I’ve always said I could never be someone who quits and comes back to the sport. If I think it’s time to move on, if it’s time to end … I’d hate to finish on the disappointment, but at the same time I’m proud of what I have achieved in my swimming career and really happy with the person I have turned into after this really hard prep.

“It’s tough. I’m in a really tough position now having to analyse what I want to do because I love swimming and I love competing and representing Australia but if preparations are going to be like the one I just had, there is just no way in the world I can keep it up. It was really tough,” she said before the tears gushed.

“Obviously I can sit here and say so many things went wrong and that was the reason why I didn’t do well but at the end of the day, you know, I did everything I could in this preparation.

“I would have liked to have done what I know I could have done if I had been able to. I would have been much better prepared. But the reality was it panned out this way for me and I walk away from these Olympics disappointed with results and times but really proud of the effort and energy I put in to get myself to this point.

“If I was to continue in the sport I would definitely need some sort of surgery whether it’s a recon [reconstruction] or a clean out, I’m not 100 per cent and that’s something I have to weigh up when I finish – whether I can go through another surgery and prepare again.”

Rice still has a chance on Wednesday to salvage something out of all the disappointment if she gets a swim in the 4x200m freestyle relay, another event she won in Beijing.  It will be revealed Wednesday morning if she will be a member of that team which plans to defend their Olympic title.

London has certainly been very different to Beijing for Rice, not simply in terms of gold medals won, but in how she has had to battle through a debilitating shoulder injury over the past few years, and more specifically since a tear in her tendon was discovered late last year.

“Come race time when we are backing off in taping it [the shoulder] seems to handle the load a lot better because it’s not so intense,” she explained.

“There’s no excuses for the way I have prepared in these last few weeks. Obviously it has been far from an ideal preparation and lot different to my Beijing one, but I never wanted to compare the two of them because I was missing out on kilometres but I was definitely doing more in other areas than I was before Beijing.

“I was hoping it would weigh up but it obviously hasn’t weighed up as I would have liked it to.”

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