Sydney (AFP) – Australian swimming great Grant Hackett posted a photograph of his cut and bruised face on social media Thursday as his fall from grace took a new twist into family turmoil.
The 36-year-old double Olympic gold medallist was released without charge Wednesday after his family called in police following a reported bout of heavy drinking which led to “uncontrollable rage”.
His brother Craig told reporters the former swimmer had mental health problems and was no longer the person he once knew.
“My brother comments to the media… but does anyone know he beat the shit out of me,” Hackett wrote in his Instagram caption.
“Everyone knows he’s an angry man,” he added.
The snap, showing a cut above a black eye and dry blood on his nose, appears to have been taken in a medical facility.
Hackett’s father Neville said his son had a “bit of breakdown” at the family home on the Gold Coast amid reports of a mix of prescription drugs and alcohol.
His whereabouts were uncertain Thursday with his father telling the Courier Mail: “I don’t know where he is.”
Hackett came out of six years of troubled retirement in 2014 in a bid to make the Rio Games, hoping to become the oldest Australian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics.
But he narrowly missed out on a team place and last April hit the headlines again after a meltdown on a plane.
He vowed to quit the bottle after being accused of drunkenly squeezing the nipple of a fellow business-class passenger on a flight from Adelaide, where the swimming trials were held.
– ‘Different person’
“This is now a chronic problem… so, from a mental health perspective, I hope something can be done,” brother Craig said Wednesday in an apparent plea for better medical help.
“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,” he said.
Hackett mumbled a few words to reporters after his release saying he was “not great” and “probably needed to” go into rehab.
Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates offered support for Hackett.
“We are concerned for Grant’s welfare,” he said in a statement. “This is not the Grant we know and respect.
“Grant is a great Olympic champion, one of the greatest swimmers of all time, and his contribution to the Olympic Movement and to sport in general should not be forgotten.
“We hope he can overcome his current challenges and we have offered him any support he needs.”
Hackett retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, having won the 1500m freestyle in both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. He also claimed four world titles in the 30-lap event.
But after retirement he quickly ran into problems with a messy divorce and allegations he smashed up his Melbourne home in 2011. In 2014 he checked into a US rehabilitation clinic to treat an addiction to sleeping pills.