Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers says it’s unfair to paint him as “the villain” who stole Cody Simpson’s spot in the Australian team for the upcoming world championships, and described reports that a love triangle was behind his backflip as “pathetic.”
Simpson finished third in the 100m butterfly at the Australian Swimming Championships, behind Matthew Temple and Chalmers.
At the time, it was believed that Chalmers would skip the world titles, meaning Simpson could have claimed one of the two spots on the team, having swum the qualifying time.
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But the 23-year-old has now confirmed he’s contemplating a U-turn, and may instead take his place on the team, meaning Simpson would miss out.
His backflip prompted suggestions of revenge for the fact Simpson is reportedly dating swim queen Emma McKeon, who was linked to Chalmers last year.
Speaking to 2Day FM’s Hughesy, Ed & Erin, Chalmers said the rumors were rubbish.
“It’s hugely pathetic. It’s the biggest joke I’ve ever heard to be honest with you,” he said.
“I started out a butterflyer. I’ve wanted to be a butterflyer my whole career, my body just hasn’t allowed me to.
“For me being able to just swim butterfly is so special and something I’m so proud of … to be able to go back to the event I grew up loving and doing is all the motivation I need.
“Unfortunately I’m the one who has to stand up and apologise and be made out to be the villain when all I’ve done is given everything to my sport and given everything to my country over this last eight-year period I’ve been in the Australian swimming team.”
Speaking to reporters in Adelaide, the 2016 Rio gold medallist said he’ll make a call on the world titles over the weekend.
“For me, I have to have a serious sit-down with my coach and team around me and have that discussion over these next couple of days,” Chalmers said.
“Obviously I look at my preparation eight weeks ago and I wasn’t in the pool at all, potentially not going to swim at all, potentially maybe never even going to swim again. My shoulders were in a whole lot of pain. I was extremely burnt out.
“I think [going to worlds] is going to be the best thing for me personally moving forward.”
Chalmers said it would be unfair to paint the situation as a Chalmers vs Simpson scenario.
“You can’t make me out to be the villain,” Chalmers said. “Yeah, it’s unfortunate that it probably takes Cody’s spot away but it also takes away five other guys’ [places] who were in the race. It’s not just Cody.
“I think the hard thing is my training buddy Matt Temple is the Australian record holder who won back-to-back titles last night. There is no attention or hype around him which is for me what I struggle the most with. It’s great there is eyes on me and Cody. The eyes deserve to be on Matt Temple.”
While Chalmers’ backflip would push Simpson off the team for June’s world titles in Budapest, the pop star is still in line for a spot on the team for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where Australia can take up to three swimmers in each event.
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