Name: Stephanie Rice
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Why you should care about her: A recent study found that Rice is Australia's most popular and recognizable Olympian. That might have less to do with her success in the pool, and more to do with the fact that she is an attractive young woman who likes to tweet photos of herself in bathing suits, but that's neither here nor there.
The Aussies appear to have forgiven Rice for a 2010 incident which led to Jaguar ending their relationship with her and requesting that she return a Jaguar XF that the company had given her. Rice found herself in hot water when she tweeted "Suck on that faggots!" after Australia beat South Africa in a rugby match. "She is an idiot ... and anyone who continues to endorse her as an athlete is an idiot as well," said Ian Roberts, a gay former rugby player. Rice later made a tearful apology.
Rice will attempt to match her sterling 2008 showing in London this year. That is no small feat, though, considering she had shoulder surgery in December to attempt to repair a torn tendon. Doctors were unable to fix the tear, so Rice was forced to attempt to rehab the injury. The shoulder held up well enough for her to qualify back in March, but Rice said in May that it was still giving her trouble. She also tweeted a picture on June 12 of herself receiving acupuncture treatment and icing the shoulder. Winning multiple medals in spite of her injury would be a truly remarkable accomplishment for Rice.
Olympic/world championships experience: Rice won three gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys as well as the 4x200 freestyle relay. She had two bronzes and a fifth at the 2011 world championships.
Sexy-pose threat level:
Previous sexy poses:
Olympic archetype: Amanda Beard
Scouting report from some guy on the internet: From Twitter user Alex Emery (@AtotheEbitch):
Anyone seen the Stephanie Rice picture, damnnn she must have a good waxing lady, girl is definitely aerodynamic!
Scouting report from home country: From The Australian:
This is an encouraging position for Rice, who finished third behind Beisel at last year's world titles in Shanghai, albeit she is in far better shape than she was then.
If the photo she took of herself in a tiny, white bikini and posted on Twitter this week shows anything, it is that she has done the work required to give herself the best chance of repeating her Beijing triumph.
Her coach, Michael Bohl, said Rice was considerably fitter than she had been at the national trials and was "where she needs to be" a month before the Games begin.
Did you know?: Rice's nickname is "Ricey."
Forecast for 2012: Rice's success in London depends on whether her shoulder is healthy enough to allow her to perform to the best of her ability. Rice will compete in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medleys as well as the 4x200 freestyle relay. If she is able to sweep all three events like she did in Beijing, she'll surpass Ian Thorpe as the Aussie swimmer with the most Olympic golds. If her shoulder is healthy, that is certainly possible. If not, it might be tough.
Relevant Bob Costas facial expression: