A good cry last year, however, finally let go of the emotions she had long harboured and, as a result, changed the way the one-time ‘Madame Butterfly’ swimming star now looks back on the Sydney Olympics.
“I just wished when I finally had the cry, it wasn’t so public,” Susie laughs about the incident on Brisbane’s Nova breakfast radio show, which she co-hosts. “I had no idea all those feelings were going to pop out of my body, and after all that happened.”
After 20 years of refusing to watch the footage of her 200m butterfly race, she finally did so while on-air and broke down in tears, admitting she felt she had failed before a home crowd. “The pressure at that time was overwhelming,” she admits.
After the teary breakdown on radio, however, Susie felt like something had finally been released.
“All of a sudden, I realised that while I came second in that race, I had never celebrated the fact I won gold in the 200m freestyle. Letting those tears go gave me a whole new perspective on all of it.”
So, did she feel like she had purged her demons? “Absolutely!” she responds. “It has taken me 20 years, but I have finally learnt to celebrate my successes more and if I’ve been disappointed in something, then it’s best to face it, deal with it straight away and don’t put it away in a cupboard.”
What also proved powerful in reshaping her outlook was considering her own experience through the eyes of her daughter, Alix, 16. (Susie is also mum to a son, William, 14, with her husband, Cliff Farley.)
“I thought of how would I feel if my daughter won gold and three silver medals at an Olympics, and realised I would be bursting with pride,” she says.
“So now, I look at pictures of the Sydney Games and have dug the medals out of the cupboard, and I am at last bursting with pride over what I worked so hard for and celebrating everything I set out to achieve in my career. I definitely feel better about it now, but it took a long time to get there.”