SYDNEY // Grant Hackett was more saddened for his country than himself after China's Sun Yang broke the 1,500 metres record the Australian swimming great had held for a decade at the world championships.
Teenager Sun swam a sensational final lap in Shanghai on Sunday to better the longest standing record on the books, clocking 14 minutes 34.14 seconds to beat the 14:34.56 Hackett set in Fukuoka in 2001.
Hackett had taken the record off compatriot Kieren Perkins, who first claimed it in 1992 and twice improved his own mark, so Sun's swim took it out of Australian hands for the first time in 19 years.
"Its been nice to hang on to it for that long, but I really don't feel that sad, personally," Hackett told The Australian newspaper.
"I feel more that it is Australia losing something. I would have loved it to go to another Australian, but on a personal level sport evolves and you just accept it."
Hackett, who dominated the event and was unbeaten in finals for 11 years until the 2007 world championships, had predicted Sun would take his record but thought it would have been bettered by more than 0.42 seconds.
"I'm very surprised it was only by a whisker when it comes down to 1500m," said the 31-year-old, who won three Olympic and 10 world championship gold medals before retiring in 2008.
"It's almost annoying that it was such a small margin. Hopefully another Australian can come up over time to get it back for us."