Australian Olympic gold medallist announces swimming retirement at age 22

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Australian Olympic gold medallist Chelsea Hodges has announced her retirement from swimming at just 22 years of age.

Hodges was a key part of Australia’s 4x100m women’s medley relay team that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell.

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The breastroker swam a blistering leg that helped keep the Aussies in touch with the Americans, before Campbell flew home to finish first and win gold.

Hodges also won bronze medals in the 50m and 100m breastroke, along with 4x100m medley gold at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

She was also part of Australia’s team that broke the world record in the women’s 4x50m medley relay at the 2022 World Short Course Championships in Melbourne.

Hodges set the Australian 50m breastroke record (30.05sec) in Birmingham, and still holds that record.

But after dealing with ongoing hip and back injuries, Hodges has made the tough call to hang up her goggles just weeks out from the Australian swimming trials and two months before the Paris Olympics.

She has already had three serious operations in a bid to get her body fit for competitive swimming.

“I went home and cried for many hours. I think I knew my swimming was done,” Hodges told the SMH of her decision to withdraw from last month’s national championships.

“Being in pain all the time is very tiring. You are mentally and physically drained. I just wanted the pain to end. It feels like someone is grinding your bones any time you move and drilling a hole into your leg.

“Once it started getting sore again, I think I knew deep down that Paris wasn’t going to happen. I’m not ecstatic that I have to retire … but once I knew what my life would look like if I continued, it was an easy decision.”

“Thank you Swimming. It’s with a very heavy heart I announce my retirement from competitive swimming,” Hodges wrote on Instagram.

“It’s been a challenging 18 months and retiring now is not how I hoped this chapter of my life would end however I believe I’ve made the right decision.

“Swimming has given me so much in life and I could not be more grateful for the people, experiences and life long memories I have through this sport. I had to make the decision to retire or ruin my chance to be as fit and as healthy as I would like in my future.

“Ultimately I have to do what’s best for my future and listen to what my body has been desperately trying to tell me. I am lucky to have the absolute best support team who helped me make this decision as well as the best support network in my family and friends.”

The Australian swimming trials will be held in Brisbane next month.


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