Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers won his signature race at the Commonwealth Games, then celebrated with a shush two days after saying recent “false headlines” about his relationship with Australian teammates threatened his future in swimming.
Chalmers took the 100m free on Monday in 47.51 seconds, a day after recording a Commonwealth Games record 47.36 in the semifinals in Birmingham, Great Britain. He ranks second in the world this year behind 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici, who swam 47.13 at June’s world championships.
“It’s special to win, but unfortunately, I think it’s hard to enjoy the moment when all that’s happened has gone on,” Chalmers said on Australia’s Seven Network. “It makes it a very, very challenging time. I’m grateful that I was able to block it out enough to stand up and win tonight, but I just hope this is a learning point for everyone where no one else has to go through what I’ve had to go through the last couple of days.
“There was points where I thought that I wouldn’t continue on and do the race, but that just lets the media win, right?”
Chalmers, who took 100m free gold and silver at the last two Olympics, was referring to headlines and media questions toward him at the Commonwealth Games about fellow Australian swimmers Emma McKeon, his former girlfriend, and Cody Simpson, who is now dating McKeon.
Earlier, Chalmers shared a Sydney Morning Herald article that reported that other media accused Chalmers of not congratulating McKeon after they were on the victorious mixed 4x100m free relay team Friday.
“Did you watch the whole race?” Chalmers said, according to the newspaper. “I said congratulations and we [McKeon] stood here right alongside you guys and spoke last night. I find that really hard to believe that I didn’t say congratulations after the race.”
McKeon said that Chalmers did shake her hand, according to the Herald, saying, “He did [congratulate me]. We always put a good team together, and mixed relays are always fun.”
Chalmers said the headlines date back to May’s Australian trials. In the 100m butterfly at that meet, Chalmers took second and Simpson took third. Chalmers said before the meet that he planned to skip the world championships, which would have meant Simpson was upgraded to the second and final spot on the world championships team in the event.
Then at the meet (and before the 100m fly final), Chalmers said he had not made up his mind. After the 100m fly final, he decided to take the spot, which meant that Simpson, a pop star who returned to swimming in 2020 after a decade break, would not be on the world team (but would make Commonwealths, where a nation can enter three swimmers per individual event).
“I ask that you please stop writing these false headlines otherwise my time in the sport will be finished,” Chalmers shared on social media on Saturday. “This could end my time in swimming, I hope you are all aware. My mental health right now from all of this over the months is at rock bottom, I really hope that pleases the key board warriors that continue to write false news. Thank you again for the people who love, care and support me. You’ve been there for me everyday through this journey.. and without you I would not have been standing here racing. I would have been retired, but you motivated me, inspired me and helped me get through this battle. For that I am forever grateful.”
Back in May, Simpson said that he and Chalmers “cleared the air” after Chalmers’ decision to take the spot and that “it was all good.”
“He changed his mind, which he has every right to do,” Simpson said then on Amazon Prime. “I respect his decision either way.”
Chalmers said at Commonwealths that he tells Simpson “good luck” and has messaged him post-race, according to the Herald.
“I do nothing but be positive,” Chalmers said, according to the report. “I try and support him on the team but again, people just want clickbait.”
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