This swimmer joins a list of Australians who have won more Olympic gold medals in the fifteen-hundred meter freestyle than any other nation - starting with Andrew “Boy” Charlton in 1924. Following Charlton were Murray Rose-1956, Jon Konrads-1960, Robert Windle-1964 and Kieran Perkins in 1992 and 1996.
Grant Hackett was born in Southport, on Australia’s Gold Coast. He joined coach Denis Cotrell’s team in 1992, at the age of 12. In 1999, he broke his first world record, surprising everyone by beating Hall of Famer, Giorgio Lamberti’s 200 meter freestyle record, while swimming the lead-off spot for his club at the Australian Championships.
In his specialty, the 1500 meter freestyle, he was unbeaten from 1997 to 2007, winning every major world competition. His four World Championship gold medals in this event make him the only swimmer to have won a world title in one event four times, and in total, he has won ten World Championship gold medals. In 2001, at the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, he set a world record that lasted over ten years, finally broken by China’s Sun Yang, in Shanghai, at the 2011 Championships.
Hackett is best remembered for winning back to back gold medals in the 1500 meter freestyle at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and the 2004 Games in Athens.
It was during the 1500 freestyle at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, where Hackett may have given his most impressive performance. He was suffering from respiratory problems, a partially collapsed lung, but he still overcame the tough competition to win the gold medal in back to back Olympic Games. His Olympic career spanned from 2000 to 2008, all totaled, he won three gold, three silver, and one bronze medal in the freestyle events.
During his career, he set a total of 15 world records, 5 long course and 10 short course and still holds the world record in the 1500 meter short course event that he set in 2001.