Sydney - Australian Olympic swimming great Grant Hackett has
blamed excessive drinking and anxiety attacks for a series of unsavoury
incidents that badly tarnished his reputation.
The 37-year-old sought help for mental health issues in
February after being arrested at his parents' home following a family bust-up.
He then went missing for several days, sparking fears for his safety.
He said he had been in a bad place mentally and drinking
excessively as he opened up on Tuesday for the first time since then.
"I was in a bad place, I suffer from pretty bad anxiety
and ended up drinking. I drank too much at my parents' house and got into an
argument with my dad," he told KIIS commercial radio.
Several weeks earlier, he had got in a fight with his
brother, who was trying to help him recognise he had problems. It left him with
a black eye.
"I wasn't in a good space for a couple of months and he
came over to my house and I was refusing that help, I didn't want him to come
in and when I get in that state of mind I get quite reclusive," Hackett
"He wanted to come in, I didn't want him to come in. I
was trying to push him out and we got into a push-and-shove and he whacked me
with his weak arm, so I'd hate to see him (hit me) with his strong arm."
Hackett said the incident at his parents' home - in which
they feared for their safety - had terrified him, and prompted him to seek help
after admitting he hit "rock bottom".
"I was deep down in that ditch and hit rock
bottom," he said. "When I got arrested I thought, 'This is it, I've
had enough of this'.
"I get anxiety, I haven't handled the past few years
very well in bits and pieces. Ever since I went through that divorce and all
the publicity that followed."
Hackett retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having won
the 1500m freestyle at both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games. He also
claimed four world titles in the 30-length event.
But he quickly ran into problems with a messy divorce and
allegations he smashed up his Melbourne home in 2011.
Then in 2014, he checked into a US rehabilitation clinic to
treat an addiction to sleeping pills.
He came out of six years of troubled retirement in 2014 in a
bid to make the Rio Games, but narrowly missed out on a berth and after the
Olympic trials in 2016, hit the headlines again with a public meltdown on a
Hackett was accused of drunkenly squeezing the nipple of a
fellow business-class passenger in an another embarrassing incident.