Australian superstar Kyle Chalmers has spoken out for the first time since Saturday’s dramatic press conference and later on social media, hitting back at controversial media coverage of what he says was a rift in the swimming team.
Addressing reports of a rift between him and Commonwealth Games partner Emma McKeon (his ex-partner), Chalmers said firmly on Saturday: “It’s all fake news. It’s really just cr***. It really is a load of s***. It’s not true,” he said.
He went on to discuss the impact of negative media coverage on athletes’ mental health, and how he’s considering not speaking to the media in the future — if not walking away from the sport entirely.
After 24 hours in the men’s 100m freestyle semi-finals on Sunday night, Chalmers gave a raw and emotional interview, saying, “I mustered up all my courage to stand behind the blocks and swim this morning.”
“I wouldn’t have made it through without my teammates,” he said, before doubling down on his future in the sport.
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Speaking to Channel 7’s Kate Campbell, he said: “It’s hard, it’s hard to get up and swim this morning. It was probably one of the challenges I faced. As I mentioned on Instagram, I think they don’t realize how much influence the media has on athletes and mental health.
“For me, it took all my courage and energy to swim standing behind the blocks this morning.
“It’s not something I want to do, it’s not something I want to go through, to be honest, I’ve been excited for this moment for a long time and I’ve been working hard to be here. Such a long time. How it unfolded, yes, definitely makes me question my future in the sport.
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He declared Saturday night’s press conference “heartbreaking” as the media focused exclusively on the group’s discord.
“Yeah, I didn’t get into the sport to deal with that kind of thing. I stood there and was interviewed for 20 minutes and nothing was said about how we broke the Commonwealth record and won the gold medal last night, so it’s not a thing. So it’s very sad for me.
He doubled down on his statement that he was considering his future in the sport: “I have no reason to stop and talk to the media, I do it to please people.” Now it’s about how the truth is and how I feel, but, yes, I do and I wonder what happens to me now.
Chalmers revealed that he received great support from his teammates the other day: “The team was amazing, especially after last night, until this morning I just put my headphones in and turn them off and I don’t want to talk.” It was really special to have all my teammates, coaches and staff come and say they were there for me.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without my teammates the last few times.
“The media, there is conflict in the team, there is zero, we are a very tight team, as you know, we have been away from the field for a long time, now we are. Brothers and sisters. I enjoy being part of the team, I enjoy being a senior member of the team. At this time, those in the team I hope to be able to inspire and help many younger people to get through this stage.
Speaking about the dangers of intense media scrutiny, he continued: “Like you said there, I’m not a robot. We have feelings, we have feelings, we are not different from anyone else.
“We fight hard, mental health is a big thing in sport, it’s a big thing in my career and it’s affected a lot of other people in the team. For me, I did what I had to do this morning.
“Like I said, I used my courage to stand on the blocks and swim.”
And while he revealed he wasn’t thinking of giving up the sport, his love for swimming was clear for all to see in his final answer to an emotional interview. He said: “I like it, I like swimming. I love competition, I love the men I love. I love the boys. “