Hackett found 'alive and sober'

Grant Hackett did not appear to be sporting any injuries when he was released by police on Wednesday.
Grant Hackett did not appear to be sporting any injuries when he was released by police on Wednesday.

Olympic champ was missing after claiming on Instagram that his brother beat him up

SYDNEY • Olympic swimming great Grant Hackett is "alive and sober", his father told the media yesterday after he went missing following a family bust-up, sparking fears for his safety.

Hackett's father Neville said Australia's troubled former 1,500m world record-holder, who was briefly detained this week after a domestic incident, was in contact with police.

"Police officers are happy he's alive and sober," Neville said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "He's told the police officers he just wants to hide from everybody."

It is unclear where his exact location is and the police are refusing to provide further details, citing privacy reasons.

Neville raised the alarm earlier yesterday after his "mentally disturbed" son, 36, failed to turn up for appointments with a doctor and a lawyer.

Prior to that, Hackett had posted a picture on social media showing himself with a black eye, and accused his brother, Craig, of beating him up.

"My brother comments to the media... but does anyone know he beat the s**t out of me," Hackett wrote in the caption.

It is also unclear when or where the photo was taken and Hackett did not appear to be sporting any injuries when he was released by police on Wednesday.

"He's in hiding from everybody, including us," Neville added.

"I think he's very, very embarrassed, but let's see how things go."

The double Olympic gold medallist was released without charge after his family called police following a reported bout of heavy drinking which led to "uncontrollable rage".

Craig said the retired swimmer had mental health problems and was no longer the person he once knew.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates and Swimming Australia both offered their support.

"We are concerned for Grant's welfare," he said in a statement. "This is not the Grant we know and respect.

"Grant is a great Olympic champion, one of the greatest swimmers of all time... We hope he can overcome his current challenges."

Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson added: "Given these recent circumstances, we once again reached out to Grant and his family to continue to offer support and assistance in any way we can."

Hackett retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having won the 1,500m freestyle at both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games. He also claimed four world titles in the 30-length event.

But after retirement he quickly ran into problems with a messy divorce and allegations he smashed up his Melbourne home in 2011.

In 2014, he checked into a US rehabilitation clinic to treat an addiction to sleeping pills.

The Australian came out of retirement in the same year in a bid to make the Rio Games, but he narrowly missed out on a berth.

After the Olympic trials in Adelaide last April, he hit the headlines again after a meltdown on a plane. He was accused of drunkenly squeezing the nipple of a fellow business-class passenger in an embarrassing incident which prompted him to vow to quit drinking.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Hackett found 'alive and sober''. Print Edition | Subscribe