Hackett reveals 40-year family secret

 

Grant Hackett has revealed his mother Margaret survived cancer before falling pregnant with the Australian swimming champion.

After Grant's older brother Craig was born, Margaret Hackett was told she could no longer have children following the diagnosis.

But she defied the odds, beating the illness and giving birth to Grant six years later.

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On Tuesday morning, Hackett revealed his mother's diagnosis for the first time when quizzed about the age difference between himself and his older brother.

"This is going to be quite revealing and quite serious," Hackett told B105's Stav, Abby & Matt.

"It was actually my mum had cancer in between the two (births), so not to say that flippantly by any means but that was the reason there was such a big gap. Originally it was going to be two years.

"She's been fine ever since, she's 75 today and doing wonderfully well, but that's the reason we had such a big gap.

"They said mum couldn't fall pregnant again or anything like that, but then it came around and here I am today. Thank goodness it all happened.

"I've actually never shared that before, would you believe."

Grant Hackett with his mother Margaret in 1997.
Grant Hackett with his mother Margaret in 1997.

Hackett also spoke about his difficulty to handle the public spotlight - he was arrested in 2017 - and subsequently spent time in rehab to combat problems with alcohol.

"I went through ups and downs for a period there particularly post divorce and missing my kids and really just that destabilisation post my sporting career and not really knowing how to manage that," Hackett said.

"I just didn't know where to turn. I was so used to going through adversity as an athlete, overcoming an injury or an illness, and getting a result, that I didn't really know how to ask for help.

"I was impervious to that. I didn't know how to be vulnerable.

"When it's so public it's so exaggerated and amplified … That just exacerbates it all and makes you want to hide and isolate even more."

Fellow Olympian Daniel Kowalski said there had been warning signs about Hackett's mental health issues. The Australian Swimmers' Association boss said he was hopeful he would receive the help needed to overcome his problems.

"You rely on people talking and seeking help and advice and going to someone, but it's a really taboo subject still," Kowalski told SEN Radio in 2017.

"(He needs) some tough love and (to) go to a place that won't let him check out of rehab early.

"Hopefully he can look in the mirror now and say, 'Right, it's now or never'."

Grant Hackett with his fiance Sharlene Fletcher and their baby boy Edward.
Grant Hackett with his fiance Sharlene Fletcher and their baby boy Edward.

READ MORE: Grant Hackett's medal revelation

One of Australia's most celebrated Olympians, Hackett won three gold medals before ending his professional career in 2008.

The Queenslander welcomed his third child earlier this year, and hopes to marry his fiancee Sharlene Fletcher in the coming months.

"It's been many years since I've gone through any real downs or hit rock bottom so to speak," Hackett said.

"I always had that determination that if you focus on the things that are important to you … and get the right people around you, you can certainly start achieving great things again and feel that deep sense of purpose in life.

"It's taken me many years to be able to do that and manage that but it's nice to have been able to share that."

 

Originally published as Hackett reveals 40-year family secret



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