Grant Hack­ett come­back head­lines Australia tri­als af­ter his 7 years out

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Grant Hack­ett on Thurs­day said mak­ing the Aus­tralian team for the world cham­pi­onships would be like win­ning Olympic gold as he pre­pares to make his com­pet­i­tive re­turn af­ter seven years out of the pool.

The 34-year-old walked away from the sport in 2008 af­ter win­ning the 1500-me­ter freestyle at both the 2000 Syd­ney and 2004 Athens Olympics, and claim­ing four world ti­tles in the event. He won sil­ver in the event at the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics.

Hack­ett, whose life later ran into prob­lems, with a messy di­vorce and al­le­ga­tions he smashed up his Mel­bourne apart­ment, re­turns on Fri­day and has en­tered in the 100-, 200- and 400-me­ter freestyle events at the na­tion­als in Syd­ney.

“If I made the Aus­tralian team it would feel like win­ning an Olympic gold medal,” he said ahead of the Aus­tralian tri­als for the world cham­pi­onships in Kazan, Rus­sia later this year.

“(But) I never thought in a mil­lion years I would qual­ify for the team. It was just to see where I was at, if I want to go an­other 6 or 12 months and ac­tu­ally be com­pet­i­tive.

“I don’t have ex­pec­ta­tions and I have con­sciously ap­proached it like that.”

As a for­mer leader of the Aus­tralian team, Hack­ett said he hopes his re­turn has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the coun­try’s younger gen­er­a­tion of swim­mers.

“That’s the point of be­ing a part of Aus­tralian swim­ming and the Aus­tralian swim team is that you want to see every­body swim quick(ly),” he said.

“If me com­ing back into the sport for my own rea­sons ac­tu­ally lifts the younger com­peti­tors and see them get that lit­tle bit ex­tra out of them­selves, then my job is done.”

Last year the for­mer 1500-me­ter world record-holder un­der­went re­hab in the United States af­ter seek­ing help for an ad­dic­tion to sleep­ing pills.

He is now back un­der his old coach De­nis Cot­terell and said the up­heaval in his per­sonal life led him back to the pool, but he was a dif­fer­ent swim­mer the sec­ond time around.

“I don’t have ex­pec­ta­tions like I did be­fore and I sort of re­serve the right to pull out at any time,” he said.

No Pres­sure

Dual world cham­pion James Mag­nussen said he was un­der no pres­sure head­ing into the tri­als de­spite a con­tro­ver­sial coach­ing switch.

Mag­nussen said he does not know how fast he will swim at the 8- day meet­ing af­ter over­com­ing a back in­jury and tack­ling a dif­fer­ent train­ing pro­gram un­der new coaches Mitch and Lach Falvey.

But he said he had no re­grets as he looks to re­cap­ture his na­tional 100- me­ter ti­tle, de­spite Aus­tralian team coach Jacco Ver­haeren mak­ing it clear he will be watch­ing the 2012 Olympic sil­ver medal­ist closely due to the sur­prise coach­ing switch.

“Even if we don’t get the re­sults im­me­di­ately I re­ally be­lieve they will come be­cause I am re­ally a big be­liever in what we are do­ing and the sort of set up I have got,” he said.

“The struc­tures around swim­ming in Australia are so rigid and old school.

“It’d be good for peo­ple to see if you can or can’t suc­ceed out­side one of those pro­grams.”

Fol­low­ing their im­pres­sive per­for­mances in 2014 the scores are level be­tween Mag­nussen and fel­low Aus­tralian Cameron McEvoy, with one gold each from the ma­jor in­ter­na­tional meets.

Mag­nussen fin­ished first at the Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games while McEvoy took gold at the Pan Pa­cific Cham­pi­onships on the Gold Coast.

The four mem­bers of Australia’s world record break­ing 4 x 100- me­ter freestyle re­lay team from the Com­mon­wealth Games — Cate Camp­bell, Bronte Camp­bell, Emma McKeon and Me­lanie Wright — face off dur­ing the tri­als in a fight for the top two spots in the in­di­vid­ual 100- me­ter event in Rus­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.