Kyle Chalmers is still the king.
The Aussie superstar won gold in his pet 100m freestyle event at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday morning (AEST) and delivered a pointed celebration after touching the wall in 47.51 seconds.
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Chalmers put his finger to his lips in a gesture suggesting he was silencing his critics.
The 24-year-old revealed after the race the celebration was a special one he had thought about doing before even getting to the starting blocks.
“It’s something I’ve envisaged myself doing, probably a bit more of a powerful celebration after a win, but that one was a special one,” he said
“That probably means more than giving it a fist bump or a tensing of the muscles. I hope that sends a powerful message.”
Chalmers has been upset at the headlines that have followed him in Birmingham, relating to himself, Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson. He slammed the media for focusing on “clickbait” rather than the positivity of the results in the pool.
The Rio Olympics gold medallist made several sad admissions after his golden moment in Birmingham, saying it was tough to enjoy his third gold medal of the meet as he continued his scolding of the Australian media.
Chalmers has been waiting a long time for this moment after being denied gold at the Tokyo Games by 0.06 seconds and missing out on gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by just 0.13 seconds.
Chalmers’ saddest reveal was that he barely enjoyed it at all as a result of the headlines that have followed him this week.
“It is special to win but unfortunately I think it is hard to enjoy the moment when all that has happened has gone on,” he told Channel 7’s Cate Campbell on the pooldeck.
“It makes it a challenging time.
“I am grateful that I was able to block it out enough to stand up and win tonight. I hope this is a learning point for everybody and I hope nobody else has to go through what I have gone through.
“Yesterday there were points where I thought I would not continue on. That just lets the media win.
“For me, I had to stand up and do it, not for myself but for everybody at home, everybody going through similar things. I hope I can inspire and I will continue this
Chalmers said he can’t guarantee he will be going to the 2024 Olympics in Paris — especially if he becomes embroiled in any future media disputes.
“I definitely want to. That’s been my dream to win in Paris,” he said. “But if I have to keep going through a similar thing I won’t last until Paris, I know that. It’s too challenging and not something I swim for.
“I know I stand here bravely, but this has really set me back a lot. I really don’t know what’s next for me. Right now I’m on a high of racing, but I’m sure tomorrow when I wake up or at the end of the week when I get my flight home there’ll be plenty of different emotions that go through my head, but if it is the pool I think I’ll go back (to the same training set-up).”
Chalmers also revealed he was almost in tears when speaking with coach Peter Bishop just moments before the race.
“The past 48 hours have been hell, a rollercoaster,” he said. “I was even speaking to my coach before the race and I almost started crying and I’m not an emotional person.
“I was hoping to be on the next flight out of here, but I’ve still got a job to do in the relays for my country and I look forward to doing that.”
The superfish said he hopes his success will inspire people back home in Australia who are dealing with similar mental health issues.
Speaking about Chalmers’ gesture after hitting the wall, Ian Thorpe told Channel 7 in commentary: “This is what Kyle wanted, I think his indication … was that he wanted to silence the critics.”
England’s Tom Dean won silver and Duncan Scott from Scotland claimed bronze behind Chalmers in the final.