Grant Hackett has revealed for the first time that his mother had cancer before he was born.
The Australian swimming great was being interviewed by B105’s Stav, Abby and Matt on Monday when he brought up the six-year age gap between himself and his older brother Craig.
‘PATHETIC’: Uproar over Channel 7 star's joke about wife
Discussing how he got into swimming, Hackett said it was all because of his brother.
“All the talent lay with my brother. No one cared about me. I just kind of followed him around,” the Olympic gold medallist said.
“He moved into swimming after he lost to two girls in a surf race when he was 10 years old!!”
Host Matty Acton then asked Hackett why there was such an age gap, saying: “Given there’s six-and-a-half years between you two boys, does that mean you were the ‘whoopsie’?”
Hackett saw the funny side of the question before revealing the true reason lay in the fact his mother Margaret was diagnosed with cancer.
“No I wasn’t, this is going to be quite revealing and quite serious,” Hackett said.
“It was actually my mum had cancer in between the two, so not to say that flippantly by any means but that was the reason there was such a big gap.
“Originally it was going to be two years.”
The 40-year-old said doctors told his mother she wouldn’t be able to fall pregnant again.
“She’s been fine ever since, she’s 75 today and doing wonderfully well but that’s the reason we had such a big gap,” he said.
“They said mum couldn’t fall pregnant again or anything like that but then it came around and here I am today. Thank goodness it all happened.
“I’ve actually never shared that before, would you believe.”
Grant Hackett opens up about life in retirement
Hackett also opened up about the highs and lows of being a professional athlete, speaking about how his life spiralled out of control when he retired from swimming.
“I went through ups and downs for a period there particularly post-divorce and missing my kids and really just that destabilisation post my sporting career and not really knowing how to manage that,” Hackett said.
“I just didn’t know where to turn. I was so used to going through adversity as an athlete, overcoming an injury or an illness, and getting a result, that I didn’t really know how to ask for help.
“I was impervious to that. I didn’t know how to be vulnerable.”
“When it’s so public it’s so exaggerated and amplified … That just exacerbates it all and makes you want to hide and isolate even more.”
He also revealed he was supposed to get married last month but had to postpone the wedding because he’s based in Melbourne.
“The only good thing about being stuck in Melbourne is the family time we’ve been able to experience,” he said.
Hackett and fiancee Sharlene Fletcher have a baby boy together - Edward Anthony Hackett.
He also shares twins Jagger and Charlize with ex-wife Candice Alley.
Hackett won gold in the 1500m freestyle at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, as well as in the 4x200m freestyle relay in Sydney.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.