There is always a hero in the opening days of an Olympics and in Australia we quickly found ours in the form of Mack Horton.
Not only did Mack Horton showed an incredible degree of toughness and composure to win the 400m Freestyle, but he also showed his strength of character when he went after drug cheats in his post-race interview.
There is no doubt that Horton is an absolute rocket in the pool, but what else is there to know about Australian sport’s newest golden boy?
He Is Not A Fan Of Drug Cheats
The majority of athletes are happy to pull out the usual phrases during their post-race interviews, but that is not Horton’s style.
The remarkably well-spoken athlete used his gold medal moment to speak out against those in swimming that have previously tested positive to performance-enhancing drugs – like his 400 metres freestyle rival Sun Yang.
Sun Yang Isn’t A Fan Of Him
There is clearly no love lost between Sun Yang and Horton.
In the lead-up to the games, Sun Yang was accused of splashing water at and taunting Horton, while after his 400 metres freestyle defeat an emotional Yang claimed that Horton was no friend of his.
Who else can’t wait for this pair to do battle in the 1500 metres freestyle?
He Has Made Enemies In China
Sun Yang is still remarkably popular in China and Horton is now public enemy number one in the world’s most populous nation!
Horton has been called a variety of different names by Chinese swimming fans who called on him to apologise and his instragram page was filled with snake emoji’s.
Horton himself wasn’t the only victim of this attacks – an Englishman with the name Mark Horton was also on the end of a variety of attacks on Twitter.
He Is The Third Australian To Win The 400 Metre Freestyle Crown
Horton joined two of the biggest name in the history of Australian swimming as our only winners of the Men’s 400 Metre Freestyle.
Murray Rose was our first winner of the event at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and he defended his title four years later in Rome, while the great Ian Thorpe won the event in both Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.
He Is Continuing Our 1500 Metres Legacy
Horton is not at the 2016 Olympics by a long shot – he will be back in the pool later in the week for the 1500 metres freestyle.
It is no secret just how much success Australia has had in the 1500 Metres at the Olympics and Horton has a genuine chance of replicating the feats of Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton (1924), Murray Rose (1956), John Konrads (1960), Bob Windle (1964), Kieren Perkins (1992 and 1996) and Grant Hackett (2000 and 2004) at the end of the Rio meet!
His Hero Is Grant Hackett
As a 1500 metres swimmer, it should come as no surprise that his swimming hero is Grant Hackett.
Hackett met Horton when the new Olympic champion was only a youngster and he has played a crucial role mentoring the newest distance star!
He Is As Blind As A Bat
Horton had his glasses back on as soon as he was out of the pool after winning gold and there is a very simple reason why – he can barely see without them.
Horton admitted in an interview with The Saturday Paper last year that he can’t clearly see his hand in front of his face and that his eye power is close to minus six.
He Is Studying Commerce
Horton admits that he is no Cameron McEvoy – who is studying physics and mathematics and will likely end up as an astrophysicist – but he is still studying a commerce degree online.
He also enjoys sailing and dabbled with the saxophone as youngster, but we are fairly happy that he spends the majority of his time swimming!
He Is A Big Demons Fan
Horton had two reasons to celebrate – he won his first ever Olympic Gold Medal and his beloved Melbourne Demons scored an upset victory over Hawthorn.
It is fair to say that Melbourne have not had a great deal of success since Horton was born in 1996 – Melbourne’s win over Hawthorn was just their seventh victory over the Hawks since Horton has been alive.
He Can Still Get Better
This is the scary part!
At just 20 years of age, Horton is not anywhere near the age that most distance swimmers where most swimmers peak.
He will be just 24 at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, 28 at the 2024 Olympics that will likely be held in Rome, Paris or Los Angeles and just 32 at the 2028 Olympics – in dare we say Brisbane!