Injury-ravaged Stephanie Rice may quit swimming.
"I love swimming and I love competing and representing Australia," a tearful Rice said after finishing fourth in Tuesday night's 200m individual medley final at the London Olympics.
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"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."
A serious shoulder injury, which required surgery, prevented the triple Olympic gold medallist from nearing her best in London.
"If I was to continue in the sport I would definitely need some sort of surgery, whether it's a reconstruction or a clean out," said Rice, who also finished sixth in the 400m medley final in London.
"I am going to have to weigh up ... whether I can go through a whole another surgery again and prepare again.
"I definitely need to take a break ... I would hate to make a rapid decision that I'm quitting the sport, which I think a few people do.
"I have always said I would never be one that quits and comes back to the sport, because I think it's time to move on if it's time to end.
"I would obviously hate to finish on a disappointment but I am really proud of what I have achieved in my swimming career and I'm really happy with the person that I have turned into after this really hard prep."
The 24-year-old said her troublesome right shoulder was a constant frustration.
"I definitely walk away from these Olympics disappointed with results and times, but really proud of the effort and the energy that I put into getting back up to this point," she said.
"I don't know if I could prepare again for another time around under these circumstances."