Kyle Chalmers, the Olympic 100m freestyle champion, will undergo heart surgery and miss the world championships in July.
The 18-year-old Chalmers has Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), an elevated-heart-rate condition that can cause chest pain and fainting.
Chalmers had three “attacks” this year related to his condition, according to 7 News in Australia. He was diagnosed at age 12 and had one previous operation, according to 9 News in Australia.
“We decided it was in Kyle’s best long-term interest to get the surgery done sooner rather than later,” Chalmers’ coach, Peter Bishop, said in a Swimming Australia press release. “This will enable Kyle a good recovery period, before preparing for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018.”
Chalmers was a surprise champion in Rio, becoming the youngest man to win an Olympic swimming gold medal since countryman Ian Thorpe at Sydney 2000. Thorpe penned a letter to Chalmers as part of a team bonding exercise before Rio.
Chalmers played Australian rules football up until 2015, stopping after he broke his wrist and tore ankle ligaments during a game. In 2016, he finished second to veteran Cameron McEvoy at the Australian Olympic Trials before winning the Olympic 100m free title by two tenths of a second.
He also earned two relay bronze medals in Rio.
Chalmers is the latest Australian star to bow out of worlds, joining women’s 100m free world-record holder Cate Campbell, Rio Olympic 200m butterfly silver medalist Madeline Groves and veteran Olympians James Magnussen, Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Belinda Hocking.
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Hi guys, I’ve had to make a pretty tough decision not to compete at the World Champs in July but in the long run I know it will be the right move. It’s necessary to get my body right for the lead up to the Gold Coast Comm Games. I want to thank everyone for their support, including my sponsors who have stood by me through this process. Will keep you updated with my progress and looking forward to getting back in the pool! Cheers, Kyle