Australian swimming star Kyle Chalmers has spoken out for the first time since Saturday’s stunning press conference and subsequent social media posts where he denounced controversial media coverage claiming there was friction within of the swim team.
Taking particular aim at the tense relationship between him and fellow Commonwealth Games superstar Emma McKeon (his former partner), Chalmers said firmly on Saturday: “This is all fake news. It’s actually just cr**. It’s honestly a load of s***. It is simply not true.
He then discussed the impact of negative media coverage on the mental health of athletes and added that he considered not speaking to the media in the future, or even stepping away from the sport altogether.
On Sunday night, after qualifying for the men’s 100m freestyle semi-finals, Chalmers delivered a raw and moving interview, saying “I used all my courage to stand behind the blocks and swim this morning” after 24 exhausting hours.
“I couldn’t have gotten away with it without my teammates,” he added, before doubling down by saying he’s thinking about his future in the sport.
‘It’s cr**’: Chalmers goes nuclear, press conference cut short after relay win
Speaking to Cate Campbell for Channel 7, he said: ‘It’s tough, it’s tough for me to get up and swim this morning. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have had to face. I think the media doesn’t realize, as I said on Instagram, the impact this has on athletes and (their) mental health.
“For me, it took all my courage and all my energy to stand behind the blocks and swim this morning.
“It’s not something I wanted to do, it’s not something I wanted to go through, to be honest with you, I’ve been so excited for this moment for so long and worked hard for it. to be here for so long. For the way it has gone, yeah, it definitely makes me question my future in the sport.
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He said Saturday night’s press conference, where the media in attendance focused almost exclusively on reports of friction within the team, was “heartbreaking”.
“Yeah, I mean I didn’t come into the sport to have to deal with something like that. I stand there and I’m interviewed for probably 20 minutes and not a single thing has been said about how we broke the Commonwealth record and won the gold medal last night not a single thing about it . So to me, it’s heartbreaking.
He doubled down on his statement that he would consider his future in the sport, saying: “I don’t even have a reason to stop and talk to the media, I just do it to make people happy. Now it’s It’s about expressing the truth and my real feelings, but yes, I do and I will consider what lies ahead of me now.
Chalmers revealed he’s received a strong show of support from his team-mates over the past day, saying: “The team has been amazing, especially after last night, as much as this morning, I want just put my headphones on and turn off and don’t talk, all my teammates, coaches and staff who came to tell me they were there for me were really special.
“I couldn’t have made it without my teammates during this last little period.
“Even if the media wants to make it up (that) there’s conflict in the team, there’s zero, we’re such a tight-knit team, like you know, we’ve been gone for so long now, we’re like brothers and sisters. I like to be part of the team, I like to be a senior member of the team. I hope this time I was able to inspire and help a lot of young guys from the team to get here.
Speaking about the impacts of media scrutiny, he continued, “Exactly like you said right there, I’m not a robot. We have feelings, we have emotions, we are no different from anyone else.
“We struggle a lot, mental health is a huge thing in sport, a huge thing that has impacted my career and a lot of other team members. For my part, I did what I had to do this morning.
“Like I said, I used all my courage to stand on the blocks and swim.”
And while he may have said he wasn’t considering giving up the sport, his passion for swimming was evident to all in his final response to a moving interview. He said: “I love it, I love swimming. I love racing, I love the guys I race against. I like guys.