Hackett Ready for Return to the Top

BEIJING, China, April 26. THE future for Grant Hackett, according to the man himself, will include the same awe-inspiring efforts he's routinely uncorked over the years. Working through injuries and tending to the importance of personal affairs, including a marriage, Hackett didn't enjoy a highly successful World Championships in Melbourne, where he managed just a bronze medal in the 400 freestyle.

But, Hackett has indicated that he's ready to return to the training that has made him the world-record holder in the 800 and 1500 freestyles and a two-time Olympic champ in the metric mile. In Beijing to get a feel for the facilities for next year's Olympic Games in China, Hackett indicated that the next 16 months would be geared toward preparation for a run at a third straight Olympic crown in the 1500 free.

"I have been so fortunate and you have your highs and lows, but I just have this strong belief Beijing will be the final peak," Hackett was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun. "I just want to get past Beijing and then make decisions on my racing. I know I have what it takes to produce something special in Beijing. This has always been the big picture for me, and while Melbourne was disappointing, it's what happens next year that matters."

Hackett, who was treated for a leg infection in the past few days, has announced his schedule for the Beijing Games. He will contest the 400 and 1500 freestyles, along with the 800 free relay. But, that's only his pool slate. Hackett has also confirmed that he'll tackle the 10-kilometer open-water race, which will be new to the Olympics.