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Hackett hits back at fat jibes -

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Hackett hits back at fat jibes

The World Today - Wednesday, 7 May , 2008 12:29:00

Reporter: Karen Barlow

ELEANOR HALL: The captain of the Australian swimming team, Grant Hackett, has hit back at claims
that he is carrying too much weight in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics.

The champion freestyler has just arrived back in Melbourne disappointed to have been disqualified
during a 10-kilometre event in Seville.

But the Olympic champion has also has to contend with the reaction to an unflattering post-race
photograph which appeared to show Hackett with a somewhat less than taut midriff.

Karen Barlow has our report.

KAREN BARLOW: Looking fit in a green and gold short sleeve shirt, Grant Hackett, emerged from
Melbourne Airport's gate ready to set the record straight.

GRANT HACKETT: Do I look like I am really that overweight? I don't really think I am.

KAREN BARLOW: The 27-year-old hadn't looked his best as he emerged from the Seville water. One
particular photo of the man seeking a third Olympic gold medal in the 1,500 metres freestyle showed
a solid gut.

It led to accusations his Beijing preparations weren't on track, but Hackett is not having any of
that, saying 10-kilometre swims are very different from his usual pool events.

GRANT HACKETT: You sort of carbo load. You have 3.5-litres of fluid before you start the race. I
can push my stomach out at any time and those togs and all that sort of stuff.

I think the whole sort of circumstances and just an absolutely unflattering shot and yeah, I just
tried to do that so I could have a go for the Biggest Loser. (laughs)

So I'm not worried about that. To be honest it is funny because five weeks at Olympic trials, where
my skins falls in weight, it's actually the best they've ever been. And just the irony of that
situation and to get out, and to have those sorts of things questioned, it's amusing. It's quite
funny.

KAREN BARLOW: Grant Hackett may see the funny side to questions about weight but he is very serious
about his disqualification in the 10 kilometre race for obstructing an opponent.

He had finished 15th in the race which served as a qualifier for the event which will be run in
Beijing for the first time. Hackett says others were using rough-house tactics.

GRANT HACKETT: To think that I pride myself on being a gentleman and in any situation in that race
and particularly when I was so targeted and had, you know, kicks and pulls and pushes under the
water.

And, you know, the guy next to me at the end when I went to even touch the finishing line actually
grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me under the water and he actually got disqualified for that
which was a little bit of justice.

But, you know, I've got a little bit of black eye still on the inside here and then all that sort
of stuff so I'm, you know, that's probably the more disappointing thing than the performance.

KAREN BARLOW: Swimming in a pack is a very different experience for a champion used to lane ropes.

GRANT HACKETT: I learnt so many things. Just to get through that pack at the end. I could outswim a
lot of those guys if you put me in lane ropes at the end of that race but to actually get through
them and negotiate my way through them.

And that's why I think I got disqualified because I went over a guys legs and they saw that me as
giving out but I just couldn't get through them to get to that finish quick enough.

KAREN BARLOW: Hackett says he is very happy that Queenslander Ky Hurst qualified for the Beijing
Games by finishing fifth.

He says he'll be keeping his own 10 kilometre swim ambitions on the backburner for now and will
concentrate on his 1,500 metre and 400 metre races.

ELEANOR HALL: Karen Barlow reporting. And apparently to prove his fitness, Hackett went straight
from the airport to the pool where he paraded before the media.