Swimming: No charges, but Hackett family cite breakdown

Grant Hackett of Australia holding his silver medal for the men's 1500m freestyle swimming final during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Aug 17, 2008.
Grant Hackett of Australia holding his silver medal for the men's 1500m freestyle swimming final during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on Aug 17, 2008.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY • Police released troubled Australian swimming great Grant Hackett without charge yesterday, as the Olympic champion's family voiced fears for his mental health.

The fallen star's father Neville called police to their home at Southport on the Gold Coast after a bout of heavy drinking led to "uncontrollable rage", the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

"Grant's got a medical problem and it manifested itself here this morning... he was raving and ranting a bit," Neville Hackett told the newspaper. "It's what I'd call a bit of a breakdown."

According to 9News, Hackett, 36, was arrested after stabbing a cutting board with a knife. He was then seen holding his handcuffs up to cameras as he was driven into the Southport watch-house.

"This is now a chronic problem... so, from a mental health perspective, I hope something can be done," Hackett's brother Craig told reporters outside their home. "This is not Grant Hackett, this is a completely different person. I don't know this person, my mum and dad don't know this person.

"He's there in body, but he is not there in mind, in soul, or spirit...

"If there's anyone out there that can help him, we're all for it. But we've reached the end of the road at this point. Doesn't mean our love has reached the end of the road; we just don't know what to do."

Hackett, who was released three hours after his arrest, admitted to the waiting media that he was "not great" and promised to get help himself, reported 9News. "I'll let you know when that happens," he said.

He came out of six years of troubled retirement to try to make the Rio Games, hoping to become the oldest Australian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics. But he narrowly missed out on a place and last April hit the headlines again after a meltdown on a plane.

In 2014, he was seen barefoot and with just a singlet wrapped around his waist at Melbourne's Crown Casino. He later checked into a rehab facility in the United States to treat his addiction to the sleeping pill Stillnox.

His former wife Candice Alley also called the police in 2011 after he allegedly trashed their Melbourne apartment.

Considered one of the greats of Australian swimming, Hackett won two Olympic golds and four world titles in the 1,500m freestyle.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline 'No charges, but Hackett family cite breakdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe