In the end, Grant Hackett’s body could only take so much.
For so long the superman of distance swimming, the Australian team captain has finally hung up his goggles.
And his proud father Nev said that his boy could not go on any longer.
“It is a nice thought (about continuing) but the body can only take so much and he’s flogged himself for 22 years now up and down that pool,” Hackett senior said tonight.
“I don’t know how anyone can do that.”
Hackett, 28, pushed his body through the pain barrier like few other sportsmen in history, his punishing training regime on the Gold Coast leading to him holding an iron grip on the 1500m for more than a decade.
His two Olympic titles in the event came despite health problems and he regularly amazed the Australian public with his resilience.
One of his greatest attributes was his incredible determination and the fact he was never afraid to take a beating.
In an era in which Ian Thorpe dominated the 400m, Hackett never dodged the challenge despite the Thorpedo’s unbeaten record over six years.
Hackett has always said he liked testing himself against the very best, even if that meant competing well outside his favoured 1500m.
He chose to pursue races against Thorpe and Michael Phelps despite the odds never being in his favour.
In the end, he came up just short of a history-making third straight Olympic 1500m title in Beijing, finishing second to Tunisian Oussama Mellouli.
But Hackett will be remembered for being a class act in both victory and defeat.
Nev said that being named captain of the Australian swimming team was his son’s highest honour.
“To be the captain of any Australian sporting team is an unbelievable honour,” he said.
If there is a tinge of regret for Hackett, it would be not finishing with a better Olympic record than chief foe Kieren Perkins.