Australian freestyler and backstroker Kyle Chalmers said it took all his strength and courage to win his third gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in the men’s 100m freestyle.
It wasn’t his fastest dive, but he said it was “bigger than just me racing”.
“It’s very, very bittersweet. It was the most challenging, probably 48 hours of my swimming career,” Chalmers said.
“And as nice as it is to win, it’s probably just a great sense of relief, rather than the satisfaction I thought I felt and wanted to feel after such a performance.”
Chalmers has been the focus of intense investigation into his personal life, and it came to a head a few nights ago at the Sandwell Aquatics Center, where he received more questions about non-sourced rumors of cracks in the team after winning the 4x100m freestyle in the men’s relay.
The 24-year-old considered running away and admitted he barely slept for the 100m freestyle heats.
But he insisted on sending a message.
“I’ve definitely had big battles with mental health for a long time, and it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve had to face and see the faces of my teammates and family,” he said.
“I think it’s important that people have the courage to stand up and talk about it.
“I’ve been here for a while and I need to get into the conversation and try to help people go through similar things and just make it more normal.
“If I can make a positive impact and help people in the same struggle, I know I’m doing my job in the sport and hopefully inspiring people.”
Chalmers also raced for a special home viewer.
His brother is in the military and can’t access his phone, but he was given special permission to watch the race.
“He’s my best friend, someone I haven’t spoken to much lately. And the only reason I had the strength to get back into the pool yesterday because of the heat was FaceTiming from my brother that night earlier,” says Chalmers.
“I think it will take me a while to analyze what just happened,” he added.
“I’m very, very grateful for all the support I’ve had at home, and it’s overwhelming how many people have reached out to me and also so many prominent people who have had similar battles in their sports or respective fields.”