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'So sorry' Hackett to quit booze

2016-04-29 14:20
Grant Hackett (Gallo Images)

Sydney - Australian swimming great Grant Hackett on Friday said he plans to quit drinking after a highly publicised meltdown on a plane which left him with a "deep sense of shame".

The dual Olympic champion, 35, was accused of drunkenly squeezing the nipple of a fellow business class passenger on a flight from Adelaide.

Hackett, who failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics at this month's Australian trials in Adelaide, admitted he had been binge-drinking and that his reputation has been blackened.

"It has definitely got a tarnish to it unfortunately and I have to live with that," he said on the Gold Coast, in his first public appearance since the incident on April 17.

"It is very difficult. A deep sense of shame, guilt, embarrassment, of regret. I am so sorry for my actions and the people it has impacted."

The former long-time 1 500m world record-holder said he had let down his family, friends, Australian swimmers and all athletes involved in the sport.

Australian swimming is trying to turn a corner after a flop at the 2012 Olympics when their campaign was marred by ill-discipline, drug use and drunkenness.

"I only wanted to be an advocate and a help to the sport and I love the sport and I love the athletes within the sport and what they are trying to achieve," Hackett said.

"I wanted to support that through my actions, but (through) pure stupidity, making poor decisions at crucial times in my life, I have compromised that and myself and (I have) a huge amount of regret around that."

Australian Federal Police did not lay charges against Hackett over the plane incident. The swimmer said he has since apologised to the man whose nipple he pinched and "everything is fine now".

Hackett retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics after winning the 1,500m freestyle at both the 2000 and 2004 Games.

He went through a divorce and then did a stint in rehab in 2014 after seeking help for an addiction to sleeping pills, before coming out of retirement with hopes of becoming the oldest Australian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics.

But he missed out when he failed to qualify for the 200m freestyle final at the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide.

Hackett said he planned to get professional help to stop drinking and wanted to set a positive example for his children.

"I will seek help. I have decided to get off the drink -- I don't want to see my life in this situation again," he said.

"That is an issue, something that needs to be addressed and I am doing that. I want a happy and prosperous life and I have two little children that I love and I want to make sure everything that I do is positive for them."

Read more on:    grant hackett  |  swimming
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