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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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Jessie Diggins, inspired by Body Issue, shares eating disorder battle

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Jessie Diggins hopes to open a conversation about body image after appearing in ESPN the Magazine‘s “Body Issue.” The Olympic gold medalist detailed her own experience with an eating disorder as a teenager in what she called “the most important blog I’ll ever write.”

“When I was 18-19 years old, I had everything in the world going for me, but I struggled with confidence and didn’t love myself,” Diggins, now 26, wrote on her website. “I suffered from an eating disorder, and eventually sought help at a treatment center, checking in for a summer program that saved my life. So when I was approached about the ESPN issue, I thought “is this REALLY something I want to do? Will it bring back old memories? Will I be ok with everyone seeing my body exactly as it is?”

Diggins is remembered for winning the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title with Kikkan Randall in PyeongChang (Here comes Diggins!). In the cross-country world, she’s also reputed for her bubbly presence, spreading glitter across her face and sharing it with fellow skiers before races.

She wants to be associated with much more.

“I want to be known not for going through an eating disorder, but for helping other women and men speak up when they need help and not feel judged for needing a friend to talk it through with,” Diggins wrote. “Statistically speaking, at least 6% of you reading this right now are struggling with disordered eating in some way. So to those of you for whom it feels like the end of the world, I can say this: it can, and it does, get better. I know, because I lived it. It will take more courage than most anything else in your life, but you can get better. And it’s worth it.”

Years before becoming a medal-winning athlete, Diggins checked into The Emily Program, a national leader for eating disorder treatment.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most important,” she wrote. “Because it saved my life, in every way that a life can be saved. I learned that I was struggling with this so much because I needed an outlet for stress, and that it was ok to feel a range of emotions – that I could survive feeling pressured, stressed, unhappy, sad, or angry as well as feeling happy-go-lucky.”

Diggins called posing for the Body Issue “a full-circle moment.” ESPN says the Body Issue celebrates every shape and size of athletes in artful fashion.

“[It’s] a chance for me to use a large stage to waltz right up to the microphone and share a message that I think is extremely important, and long overdue,” Diggins wrote. “We need to open up the conversation about body image, self confidence, and disordered eating. It should not be a shameful thing, or a taboo topic. It’s more prevalent than people think, and perhaps making help easier to find and less difficult to ask for could save some lives.”

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Darya Domracheva, triple Olympic gold medalist in Sochi, retires

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Darya Domracheva, a triple 2014 Olympic gold medalist and Belarus’ most decorated Olympian, has retired from biathlon at age 31.

Domracheva is leaving the sport because she could not continue in biathlon while raising daughter Xenia with husband Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the 13-time Olympic medalist biathlete for Norway.

“All the time after the season, I was trying to find a compromise which would allow me to raise a child and combine with a professional career at the same time,” Domracheva said, according to the International Biathlon Union (IBU). “Unfortunately I did not find an optimal solution which would allow me to combine those two important life parts. This decision is well weighted and very tough, but I finish my sports career.”

Domracheva was one of the biggest stars of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as the only athlete to claim three individual gold medals, four years after being put on a Belarus postage stamp for earning an individual bronze. Domracheva could have competed for Russia, having been born in Minsk but raised in the remote western Siberia oil boom town of Nyagan, the birthplace of Maria Sharapova.

She became Belarus’ first female Olympic champion, saying she was “the hope of” Belarus, then was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, “Hero of Belarus.”

After winning her only World Cup overall title in 2015, Domracheva missed the 2015-16 campaign with glandular fever, then in April 2016 announced she and Bjørndalen were in a relationship and having a child.

Domracheva returned to take a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships, then entered PyeongChang ranked fifth in the world. Domracheva struggled early in PyeongChang with finishes of ninth, 37th and 27th before earning mass start silver and relay gold.

Her six career Olympic medals are two more than anybody else from Belarus, and her four golds are double anybody else’s total from her country.

Belarus has only competed independently since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, having previously been part of the Soviet Union. Its top athletes who competed under other flags included gymnasts Olga Korbut (six medals, four golds for the Soviets) and Vitaly Scherbo (six golds in 1992 for the Unified Team; four bronzes in 1996 for Belarus).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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