Other Sport

'Mature' Hackett has champion touch

2015-04-12 10:12
Grant Hackett (File)

Melbourne - Australian swimming great Grant Hackett has lost none of the "champion" touch following a six-year break from the pool but will head to the world championships a more mature competitor, according to his long-time coach Denis Cotterell.

The 34-year-old Hackett, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 1 500m freestyle, qualified for Australia's 200m freestyle relay team at the national championships last week, only six months after announcing his return to training.

Hackett's comeback has been warmly welcomed by an Australian public that was disappointed by the national team's underwhelming performance at the London Olympics.

In qualifying for the 200m relay team, Hackett shaved seconds off his personal best and also smashed his fastest time in the 400m freestyle when narrowly missing out on a second berth at Kazan.

"It gave me a sense of deja vu," Cotterell, who coached Hackett to gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and Athens in 2004, told Australian Associated Press. "Nothing has really changed, he's just a more mature version.

"He has champion attributes you can't buy, and that's the make-up of the bloke."

Hackett, who also won silver in the 1 500m at Beijing, returned to the pool after a highly public battle with his addiction to a prescription sleeping medication.

Though a popular and wealthy celebrity in sports-mad Australia, Hackett struggled with life after competition and endured a messy break-up from his marriage to a local singer.

After spending time in rehab in the United States last year, photographs of a lean and muscular Hackett training began appearing in local tabloids before he announced his comeback as simply a "fun" pursuit.

Cotterell said the hard work would now begin in earnest for his protege.

"He's already come further than he ever expected - now it's more of a mental challenge," Cotterell said.

"He is at a great level already but gains won't come quick, but we know that."

Australia shook up its swimming establishment in the wake of the London Games, where the team slumped to its lowest medal haul in 20 years and were rocked by allegations of bullying, excessive drinking and prescription drug abuse.

With the team building nicely for the Rio Games, Cotterell said Hackett could only prove to be an inspiring presence for junior team mates at Kazan.

"He will add maturity to the team and strengthen the overall culture of it," he said.

"I have been on the team 30 years and he was the greatest team captain."

Read more on:    swimming

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather v Conor 'The Notorious' McGregor ... who've you got in Saturday's mega fight?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.