Five medals weren't all the swimmer won in London — she also brought home a fiancé.
London will always hold a special place in Alicia Coutts’ heart – and not just for the swag of medals she picked up there. The shy swim star, who won a gold, three silvers and a bronze at the recent Olympics, had even more to celebrate out of the pool after longtime love Steve Hardy popped the question outside the Olympic Village one moonlit night.
“Getting engaged was totally unexpected – even though I’ve always known Steve was the man for me. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” smiles the 23-year-old, showing off the sparkling diamond solitaire on her finger.
“It was pretty exciting for us both. Steve was walking me back to the Village after dinner when he suddenly dropped to one knee, looked up into my eyes, said he loved me and asked me to marry him.
“I thought he was just tying his shoelace! I threw my hands up to my face and we both burst into tears – it was such a complete shock I even forgot to say yes.
“After such an amazing time for me with my swimming, getting engaged in London was the icing on the cake. I was so happy – it was the cherry on top of absolutely everything.” While his girlfriend of four years was over the moon with his surprise proposal, Steve, 31, admits it was hardly the setting he’d planned. On the previous night he’d been forced to cancel a romantic restaurant dinner complete with waiter involvement when, coincidentally, Alicia’s roommate, breaststroke swimmer Sally Foster, announced her own engagement.
“What are the chances? I couldn’t believe the timing – Alicia got the text and she was so thrilled for Sally but I was gutted,” Steve says. “I knew I couldn’t ask Alicia the same question on the same evening and spoil her friend’s wonderful moment. But Alicia knows me well – she’s so sweet and could sense that I was upset. “She started to worry and ask me so many questions it ended up happening on the next night instead – she was so determined to find out the truth I couldn’t wait any longer!”
Read more about Alicia's love story and engagement in this week's Woman’s Day on sale Monday September 10, 2012.
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