GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA (AP) — Olympic swimming gold medalist Grant Hackett was detained by police on Australia’s Gold Coast on Wednesday after his father called for help.
Hackett’s brother, Craig, said the family was struggling to cope with the 36-year-old retired swimmer’s mental health issues.
“The whole family have done everything that we can but now it’s kind of out of our hands,” Craig Hackett was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press. “The Grant Hackett that Australia fell in love with, they can still have that affection toward him. This is not ‘Grant Hackett.'”
Craig Hackett said his younger brother’s personality had become almost unrecognizable.
“This is a completely different person,” Craig Hackett said. “I don’t know this person, my mum and dad don’t know this person. He’s there in body, but he’s not there in mind, soul or spirit.”
Hackett’s father, former police detective Neville, called police to his Gold Coast home around noon Wednesday after two-time Olympic 1500m freestyle champion became agitated and aggressive.
The former swimming star agreed to go with police and was later released, but not before the episode had made national news.
“This is now a chronic problem and it looks like it’s not going to go away in a hurry,” Craig Hackett said. “From a mental health perspective I hope something can be done.
“To see someone who is so dominant and had the world at his feet to now, really we don’t know what’s going to happen — it doesn’t look encouraging.”
Hackett had a high profile as a swimmer and TV personality after winning gold in the 1500m at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics, holding the world record in the event, and finishing with silver at Beijing in 2008.
After his TV career unraveled following a series of out-of-competition troubles, he tried to make a comeback for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year but didn’t qualify for the Australian team.
Last April, he publicly apologized for a drunken incident on a flight home from the Australian Olympic trials when he was accused of groping a male passenger who reclined the seat in front of him.
Hackett admitted he’d been drinking alcohol before the flight and would seek help to quit.
He said his career was tarnished by “pure stupidity, making poor decisions at crucial times in my life” and he felt “a huge amount of regret.”
Hackett said he struggled being back in the public spotlight after six years away from competitive swimming, leading to “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” actions.
“I have to live with that. 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,” he said.
Hackett traveled to the United States in 2014 to undergo treatment for a dependency on the sleeping medication Stilnox. His stint in rehabilitation followed the publication of a photograph of him partially nude and disoriented at a Melbourne hotel, searching for his young son, and the very public breakup of his marriage.