World record-breaking Australian swimmers Mollie O'Callaghan and Kaylee McKeown have headlined the honours as their sport dominated the AIS Performance Awards. Swimming won six…
Time has finally caught up with Grant Hackett at the Rio Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide.
But there were no tears on Friday night and certainly no regrets.
Hackett claimed he was finally at peace despite his 2016 Olympic dream ending after he failed to qualify for the 200m freestyle final at the Rio trials.
Hackett – 36 next month – had hoped to become the oldest Australian swimmer to make an Olympic team by jagging a 4x200m relay berth.
He was disappointed to walk away from the Rio trials empty handed but felt more satisfied than when he initially retired after Beijing in 2008 with 1500m freestyle silver.
Hackett (one minute, 49.09 seconds) finished second last in his 200m semi-final and 11th overall, missing out on Saturday night’s eight-man final.
But a relaxed Hackett appeared content with the decision to walk away from the sport he once dominated – this time for good.
“I have no regrets,” said the triple Olympic gold medallist.
“At some stage, you have to let go of all this.
“I felt much better about the sport than when I got a silver at Beijing.”
Hackett hung up his togs in 2008, only to shock the swimming fraternity by emerging from a six-year hiatus and making the 2015 world titles team as a relay swimmer.
The dual Olympic champion had wanted to add one more entry to his already glittering resume at Rio but to no avail.
“It’s funny. I don’t feel sad at all,” Hackett said.
“I am disappointed that I didn’t get a good result.
“There was no way I thought I would be lining up for a crack at another Olympics.
“Just to get this far has been great.
“To make that team would have been huge but it wasn’t to be – now I can get back to my normal life.”
In the end, the time lost when his Rio preparation was disrupted by bronchitis proved the difference as Hackett tried to back up from his fourth placing in Thursday night’s 400m final.
“The 400m really took it out of me, then it was a quick downward spiral because I didn’t have the fitness,” Hackett said.
“It’s disappointing but I gave it my best shot.”
Former world No.1 Thomas Fraser-Holmes (1:46.71) topped the 200m times ahead of fellow favourite Cameron McEvoy (1:46.83).
Meanwhile, Emma McKeon maintained her family’s Olympic tradition by booking a Rio berth with 100m butterfly gold.
Her father and former coach Ron (1980, 1984) and uncle Rob Woodhouse (1984, 1988) contested two Games and her brother and London Olympian David (400m freestyle) has already booked a Rio ticket.
McKeon (56.89sec PB) earned her first Olympic nod when she won 100m butterfly gold ahead of surprise packet Madeline Groves, with third-placed former Olympic bronze medallist Alicia Coutts narrowly missing out on Rio selection.
Jake Packard (59.65) will also make his Olympic debut after defending his 100m breaststroke title.