Leisel Jones' sad message to dads after passing of father

TRIPLE Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Leisel Jones has urged fathers to give their kids a big hug and 'accept them for who they are' following the passing of her own dad.

Jones posted a rare photo of herself with her father on her Instagram account, telling everyone that he had died but she was not sad.

"Today my father passed away. If you have read Body Lengths, you would know that we were never close. This is one of the only photos I have. I haven't spoken to him in 17 years but I don't feel any anger or sadness.

"If you are a Dad, please give your kids a big hug and accept them for who they are. Little girls in particular need a strong male figure in their life that have their back and can teach them things in life that only a dad can."

Jones' estrangement from her father has been well documented.

In 2008 Les Jones, then 57, made a public plea to his then 22-year-old daughter to end their eight-year rift after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"I need to tell Leisel: 'Don't let this go too far' because I don't know how much time I have left. I don't want her to feel sorry for me,'' the father of 11 said.

"When her swimming life has finished, she will have the time to dwell on what I have done or haven't done.

"She will either bump me or make amends. She needs to speed up the procedure before it is too late."

Leisel Jones released her own book Body Lengths in September.

She is regarded as one of the greatest breaststrokers ever.

At 15, she won two silver medals at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000; she went on to win gold at Athens and Beijing, and at London 2012 became the first Australian swimmer to compete at four Olympics.

In the book, she escribes what it's like to be thrust into the limelight so young.

She reveals the constant pressure she was under - from coaches, from the media and from herself - to be perfect.

Despite the highs of her swimming stardom, she suffered depression, and at one time planned to take her own life.

In London, criticised in the media for her weight, and appalled by the bulling and dysfunction in the Australian swim team, Leisel handled herself with composure.

She has emerged with maturity and good humour, having finally learnt how to be herself and live with confidence, the book's publicity says.

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