Aussie swimming legend Ian Thorpe is imploring under-siege star Kyle Chalmers to ‘shut out the noise’ as the Commonwealth Games gold medallist reveals his heartbreak over ‘the worst 12 hours of my career’.
Chalmers launched an explosive tirade at the media during a press conference following Australia’s Commonwealth Games gold medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, before doubling down on his criticism on social media.
After he seemingly snubbing ex-girlfriend Emma McKeon on the pool deck after the pair combined with William Yang and Mollie O’Callaghan to win mixed relay gold, the media pounced.
Rumours of a rift over the supposed ‘swimming love triangle’ got stronger as a result, and it was clear Chalmers was furious with the situation.
Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan, Kyle Chalmers and William Yang salute the crowd after winning gold in the 4x100m mixed freestyle relay
Aussie swimmer Kyle Chalmers is fed up with the media’s portrayal of him
His fiery rant at the waiting media scrum shocked many, so much so teammate Yang asked to leave the awkward press conference early.
Thorpe is well aware of what the spotlight can do to someone’s mental health, so he gave Chalmers some heartfelt advice on Channel 7’s broadcast.
‘The things that I have read and saying that you’re at breaking point, rock bottom kind of area, this is concerning,’ he said.
‘We’re talking about someone that doesn’t feel as though they’re in control of the narrative around their own story.’
Thorpe said Chalmers’ continual tirades over his media coverage since the National Championships in June were proof he needed to ‘shut out the noise’.
‘I think he is and I think he’s someone that does read everything and I’m someone that chooses not to,’ he said.
‘What I will say publicly about this is, “Think about it (media coverage) as something that’s outside of your control”.’
Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe is concerned for Kyle Chalmers and his welfare over the intense media scrutiny
‘It’s all just false news that is actually just crap, it’s honestly just a load of s*** that is not true,’ Chalmers said in the explosive press conference as he referred to rumours he was feuding with ex-girlfriend McKeon and her current partner Cody Simpson.
‘It’s unfortunate that I can’t do anything right at this point in time.’
He then gave further insight to former teammate Cate Campbell during an emotional interview on the Channel 7 broadcast.
‘I didn’t enter the sport to have to deal with something like that,’ Chalmers told Campbell about the ‘love triangle’ questions.
‘I stand there and get interviewed for 20 minutes probably and not one thing was spoken about how we broke the Commonwealth record and won the gold medal last night, not one thing about that.
‘Terrible. Terrible. It’s been probably the hardest 12 hours in my sporting career for sure. It is extremely hard. Extremely challenging,’ said Chalmers.
Thorpe has been open about his own struggles with mental health over the last few years.
Australia’s new golden couple Cody Simpson and Emma McKeon have had some good success at the Commonwealth Games
Ian Thorpe shows off his 400m freestyle gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
He’s revealed depression and borderline personality diagnoses, and felt the weight of the world on his shoulders before coming out as gay in a famous 2014 interview with Michael Parkinson.
For her part, Campbell also acknowledged on the broadcast that Kyle probably needed to switch off.
‘I think that Kyle sometimes uses the things that are said about him to fuel that fire within him, but it might have now reached a breaking point where there’s too much pile-on,’ she said.
Kyle Chalmers sits at the edge of the pool after Australia’s gold medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Prominent sports psychologist Gavin Freeman said Chalmers was obviously under ‘immense pressure’.
‘There are some additional challenges (in regards to media coverage) that require a significant different type of mental toughness than the normal mental toughness required to just hit the pool and swim fast,’ he told 3AW on Monday morning.
For now, Chalmers has said he is ready to ‘catch the first plane out of Birmingham’, and get back to Australia to spend time with family and friends.