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Grant Hackett ‘not there in mind, soul, spirit,’ brother says after latest trouble

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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.

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Michael Phelps to participate in Shark Week

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NEW YORK (AP) — Olympic champ Michael Phelps is participating in Discovery network’s Shark Week this summer, although he won’t be asked to outswim one.

It’s not immediately clear what Phelps will be doing, although Discovery President Rich Ross said Tuesday he’s intrigued about seeing the fastest human swimmer interact with nature’s fastest. Perhaps Phelps can be encouraged to go underwater in a shark cage, he said.

The week of shark-themed programming in mid-summer is annually Discovery’s biggest event. Now that it is approaching its 29th year, programmers are on the lookout for a new wrinkle.

Phelps has won 28 Olympic swimming medals, 23 of them gold.

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World Figure Skating Championships ice dance preview

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Alex Shibutani says he and sister Maia have made a statement the past two years.

“With our ability to perform when the stakes are highest,” he said.

The stakes don’t get much higher than this week.

The Shibutani siblings, breakout world silver medalists a year ago, lead three U.S. couples who finished in the top six at the 2016 World Championships into this year’s worlds in Helsinki.

It is the strongest ice dance field since the Sochi Olympics. The PyeongChang Winter Games medal contenders will be confirmed this week.

The clear favorites are Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions competing this season for the first time since taking silver in Sochi. Virtue and Moir returned from their two-year break to post the three highest total scores of all time in their last three international competitions.

“This is probably the most prepared we’ve been for a world championships,” Moir said, while adding, “this was a warm-up season.”

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The Shibutanis finished second (with a personal-best score) to Virtue and Moir at the most recent event, the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea in February. The margin separating the two couples — 5.1 points — was considerable.

“We’re sort of in a way in a race against ourselves to try and see how good we can get and how good we can become,” Alex Shibutani said. “Each competition along the way is another step to that eventual goal [the Olympics].”

At worlds, the Shibutanis are in the medal mix with France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who won the last two world titles.

The French, already the youngest world champs in 40 years, are trying for the first ice dance three-peat in 20 years.

But they have not progressed this season, unable to match or better their winning score from the 2016 World Championships.

Papadakis and Cizeron train in Montreal with Virtue and Moir, but they struggled (held against their own standard) in both competitions outside of French borders this season. And in different areas — step sequences, twizzles, lifts.

Conversely, it looks like the Shibutanis’ biggest obstacles are well behind them. They went from a world bronze medal in their first senior season together in 2011 to four straight years off the podium.

The Shibutanis hit a nadir at the Sochi Olympics with a ninth-place finish, worst of the three U.S. couples. Maia’s tights snagged on Alex’s sequined jacket during a lift.

The devoted vloggers countered doubts after Sochi by stressing their youth — Alex was 22 then; Maia was 19. They talked about weathering the journey and sticking to a meticulous creative process.

It paid off with their first U.S. title last year, followed by that world silver medal in Boston.

“Last year’s results at the world championships were very energizing for us,” Alex Shibutani said. “People are aware of the career trajectory that we have had. We’ve set ambitious goals because we were so motivated following that result and that exciting string of competitions that we had last season.”

The Shibutanis were actually outscored by two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates in the U.S. Championships free dance in January. They stormed back with that personal best at Four Continents, though, erasing any doubt that they are the U.S. couple expected to make the podium in Helsinki.

The U.S. has earned 12 ice dance medals at the last 12 World Championships. In that same span, the U.S. brought home eight medals combined from men’s, women’s and pairs.

The Shibutanis feel confident they will extend recent American success in their discipline.

They would also create more history for sibling skaters. They’re already the most accomplished brother-sister duo since Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France won three straight world medals followed by Olympic silver in Albertville.

“We really elevated the way that we compete and perform,” at Four Continents last month, Alex Shibutani said. “Our skating has reached another level.”

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