SPORT

So Guess When Mack Horton Says His Rio Gold Medal Will 'Sink In'?

18/11/2016 4:44 PM AEDT | Updated 20/11/2016 8:35 PM AEDT
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Onya, Mack.

Mack Horton loves causing a stir almost as much as he loves winning swimming races. Well, he does. We'll get to that in a minute.

Horton, 20, is the swimmer who stunned the world winning the 400m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympics. "Stunned the world" is a thing people often say in sport, when all they really mean is "won". But Horton really did stun the world -- with both how he swam, and with what he said before and after his race.

Dominic Ebenbichler / Reuters
Mack Horton wins gold in Men's 400m Freestyle Final

So as you may recall, ahead of that 400 metre freestyle Rio final, Horton had a bit of a verbal war with Sun Yang, the Chinese swimmer he narrowly edged out for gold. It all seems a bit childish now, but the deal is that Sun splashed Mack during a practice session, and Mack retorted by saying he didn't have time for drug cheats. Which he said on account of a three month suspension Sun had served in 2014 for testing positive to a banned stimulant.

Burn.

Then, after winning the 400m in Rio, Horton said his victory was "a win for the good guys", and described his rivalry with Sun as a match between himself and "an athlete who has tested positive."

We caught up with Mack a few days ago when he was on beautiful Hamilton Island in Queensland. Life is tough for Olympians in the months after the Games, huh? He was there competing in an ocean swim, which it won't shock you to learn he won.

Thank you @hamiltonisland it's been unbelievable 📸 @dellyphotoninja

A photo posted by uoʇɹoɥ ʞɔɐɯ (@mackhorton) on

We started our conversation with the ridiculous question we've been asking athletes all year. Because we just did.

Ant: Hi Mack. This is a very important question. Who would win a fight between a kangaroo and an emu?
Mack: I'd say a kangaroo. It can probably run faster, and while the emu might have a better reach, the kangaroo would could come in with more speed and kick.

Ant: Good answer. So apart from hanging out in tropical paradises and winning ocean races like you are now, what's the most exciting thing you've done since the Olympics back in August?
Mack: I've done quite a lot of things. If you could see the view I was looking at now from Hamilton Island, it would blow your mind.

(Ed's note: we think the view looked something like this)

Doing it tough after the @hamiltonisland ocean swim 👌🏼🌴

A photo posted by uoʇɹoɥ ʞɔɐɯ (@mackhorton) on

Ant: Anything else?
Mack: Going to Europe for five weeks with my girlfriend Ella was also a highlight. I'd get in trouble if I said it wasn't.

Ant: Well we don't want trouble, do we. Any particularly memorable moments on that trip?
Mack: We did a private boat cruise around Capri. There are these famous tunnels and you have to kiss your partner when you go through them.

Missing Melbourne....

A photo posted by uoʇɹoɥ ʞɔɐɯ (@mackhorton) on

Ant: As our readers will see from all the Instagram pics I'm going to embed in my piece, you're a bit of a social media guru. Was it hard to be on social in Rio with all the negative stuff coming at you from the Chinese?
Mack: Social media is a big part of me. I'm pretty much addicted to it, but I had to shut it down a bit in Rio because it was getting out of control.

Ant: But you gave as good as you got. I remember the press conference at the end of the Rio Games, where all of our swimming individual medallists were in a room together. And some Chinese journalists came along and had a go at you, but you pretty much destroyed them, right?
Mack: Yeah, they said 'tell us about your competition with Sun Yang', and I said 'what competition? We raced the 400 and I beat him. I raced the 1500m and finished fifth in the final and he didn't make the final.'

AFP/Getty Images
Mack was really hungry after winning the 400m in Rio.

Ant: So dry. Then after your events were over, did you do the classic Olympian food binge? We're guessing you might have had one or two... wait for it... Bic Macs?
(Big) Mack: There was free Maccas in the Athletes' village, and at first I was pretty stubborn and was saying 'I'm not going to eat Maccas'. But it was literally out the back of the building, so I was having Maccas like twice a day for the last couple of days.

Ant: Happens. Did you blow out?
Mack: I think I've put on put on three or four kilos over seven weeks, which is not too much.

Ant: No, that's not too bad at all. So when are you back in the pool getting wet again?
Mack: There's competitive swimming all year. The national short course championships were last weekend. I'm not doing the world short course championships [in Canada in December] because I have to have some down time, so I'm currently on eight sessions a week rather than 10 till the end of the year. I'm still keeping fit, and will build it next year leading into Tokyo.

The Cup @roddandgunn #roddandgunn #tailoredbyroddandgunn

A photo posted by uoʇɹoɥ ʞɔɐɯ (@mackhorton) on

Looks like one of the birds was trying to escape from the Flemington Birdcage when Mack went to the races.

Ant: Wow, we're already talking about the lead-in to Tokyo. Funny thing is, I saw you on The Project recently and you said the gold medal still hasn't sunk in yet. This is something I'm always interested in. When does it actually sink in?
Mack: I don't think it will sink in until I finish swimming. I can't really let it in sink in, because if I do get caught up in it emotionally, I might lose my motivation. Maybe when my career is over.

Ant: Well we hope that's not for at least another eight years. Thanks for speaking to the Huffington Post Australia, Mack.
Mack: Thanks, Ant.

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