BEIJING, November 2. AUSSIE distance legend Grant Hackett revealed today on Australian television that he defended his Olympic 1500 meter title and broke the Games record in Athens swimming with a collapsed lung.
Hackett successfully defended his 1500-meter crown, fighting off determined challenges from the USA'ss Larsen Jensen and Great Britain's David Davies with a heroic final 100 meters.
The future Hall of Famer initially said he had battled a bronchial infection at the 2004 Games in Athens, but acknowledged today in Beijing that, in fact, he had had a collapsed lung. Hackett is in Beijing as part of an Australian Olympic Committee delegation.
"My lungs were so blocked and stuffed for so long that it was partially deflated and there was fluid in there – it was fairly serious," he told Australia's Channel Seven.
"It was thought once it cleared up there could be scare tissue on the lungs but I had a CAT scan about two weeks ago and found it was all clear."
Dennis Cotterell, Hackett's coach added that his star swimmer had lost "up to 25 per cent" of his lung capacity in Athens.
Cotterell and Hackett decided, however, not to tell Australian medical officials opf the blockage fearing that they might not permit him to compete. Cotterell said Hackett never even considered pulling out of the race, an event in which he has been unbeatable for the last seven years.
After the Athens Olympics, Hackett gave himself the longest break of his eight year career and is set to return to full-time training by November 12.
Cotterell said Hackett would be fit for the national titles – which double as the Trials for the World Championships in Montreal from March 12-19 and might even contest February's Queensland championships.