The relentless pursuit of perfection personified by some of sport’s best athletes can take even the most well-read sports fans by surprise - as veteran TV host and podcaster Mark Howard found out when interviewing Aussie swimming legend Grant Hackett.
Howard was asked about some of his most memorable interviews with athletes to celebrate the 100th episode of his successful podcast The Howie Games.
The veteran TV host and commentator has interviewed a real who’s who of the international sporting world, with the likes of tennis champion Boris Becker, F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton and NBA gun Ben Simmons just a few of the sporting powerhouses to have graced his airwaves.
But it was his interview with Hackett, who nabbed three gold, three silver and one bronze Olympic medal over the course of his career, that left Howard stunned.
When he asked about Hackett’s silver and bronze medals, the champion swimmer’s response was far from what might have been expected.
“They’re failures” Hackett replied when asked about the medals.
“Every silver medal in my cupboard is a failure.
“I still hear those results, and I’m disgusted by them to be honest, because they should be a lot better.”
A stunned Howard felt Hackett was judging himself fairly harshly, but Hackett was having none of it.
“Disgusted is a strong adjective,” Howard replied, to no avail.
“Yeah, but it’s suitable to how I feel towards it,” Hackett shot back.
Mark Howard stunned by Grant Hackett’s ‘pure hatred’
Interviewed about his many conversations with international sporting heroes to celebrate his 100th episode, Howard said Hackett’s fierce competitiveness took his breath away.
Howard said Hackett’s answer ‘shocked him the most’ of any reply to a question he’d received.
“I was floored that one of our greatest Olympians of all time viewed coming second in such a brutal light,” Howard said.
“I guess Grant’s pure hatred of what he perceived to be ‘failure’ is one of the main reasons he was so good.”