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Brooke Hanson exclusive: My miracle baby

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By Julie Hayne : Womans Day

The expectant mum feared years of hard training had robbed her of the chance to have children.

You’d be forgiven for not recognising Olympic champion Brooke Hanson if you passed her in the street these days. The former elite swimmer’s once super-toned physique has been replaced by what Brooke calls a “real woman’s body” — and, most thrillingly, a baby bump.

“I’m totally excited,” says the bubbly 31-year-old as she welcomes Woman’s Day into the Melbourne home she shares with husband Jared Clarke. “All the medals, ribbons, trophies and certificates in the world couldn’t compare to the excitement we felt when we learnt that ‘Baby Clarke’ was finally on his or her way.”

Brooke’s joy is made even more precious by the fact that for so long she feared her life in the pool had destroyed her chances of being a mum. “Being one of the best swimmers in the world turned my body into a robot,” says Brooke. “I had irregular periods for 15 years and no cycle at all in the last three years of my career.

“When I retired from swimming [in late 2007], I was on a mission to transform my body from that of an elite athlete to one of a woman wanting a baby. Not competing gave me the chance to concentrate on gaining fat in spots a woman needs to, which in turn gave me a regular cycle.

“After six months, my doctor gave me the thumbs-up and told Jared and I to go have some fun,” she laughs.

The champ, who can count among her medals a silver and gold from the 2004 Athens Olympics, reveals it was in February during a visit to her grandparents in Coffs Harbour, NSW, that she learnt she was pregnant. “I had a feeling I might be pregnant, but when I did a test, it was negative.

“I did another test while I was in Coffs, because I was so fatigued, and this time it was positive.

“I was in the bedroom, and when I yelled out to Jared and told him we were having a baby, he came running in and hugged me harder than he ever has, and we both started crying.”

For the full story, see this week’s Woman’s Day — on sale April 27, 2009.