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Two-time Paralympian Tim Hodge knows he’s the hunted, but the current World Champion in the 200m medley SM9 isn’t letting fear or doubt stand in his way.  

Hodge boasts an incredible legacy at just 23-years-old. He’s represented Australia at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, competed at two Commonwealth Games and three World Championships.  

Across those major events he’s captured 14 medals. But there’s one that has eluded him. 

“The one thing I have remaining is to win a Paralympic gold medal,” he said in the latest edition of the NSW Institute of Sport’s ‘Lights Up’ series. 

“In the grand scheme of things, anything is possible. You just have to set your mind to it. 

“You have to be mentally resilient … if you want something bad enough that you’re willing to work for and roll with the punches, then the sky is the limit.” 

Hodge holds the 200m Individual Medley world record, which he set at the National Championships almost exactly a year ago. He then had an impressive campaign at the Manchester 2023 World Championships, winning gold in his pet event, as well as a silver and bronze. 

“Being the world record holder definitely has its challenges now, everyone on the world stage is focused on you,” Hodge said. 

“You’re the one to beat so everyone’s going to try to train harder than you, swim faster than you.  

“Being the one that everyone is chasing can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but I always like to focus on myself rather than the other athletes.” 

As well as the medals, Hodge values the legacy he is creating.  

“For me, competing is less about my ego and more about my sportsmanship,” he said. 

“So, as long as I represent my club and country to the best of my ability and show good sportsmanship win, lose or draw – I think that’s the most important part about swimming. 

“Everyone remembers the athlete who was nice to the other athletes, who was courteous … that’s someone who the Australian public and Australian sport puts up on a pedestal, not just the winners.” 

While Hodge’s inspiration and drive came from aspiring to be like his hero Matthew Cowdrey, it’s perhaps his mum who provided him with the wisdom to succeed in and out of the water. 

“I said to my parents after the operation that I thought I’d never be good at anything now I was missing my right foot,” he said. 

“My mum said to me ‘Don’t say that. We’ll find something you’re good at, we’ll put you in a whole range of sports … you never know until you try’. 

“She would always say ‘Just try your best. Try your best and whatever the result you’ll be happy with it if you try’.” 

At one point, Hodge was trying out a different sport every day of the week, but when he took up swimming at age nine, he knew he had found his place. 

“I wasn’t quite fast enough, and I remember thinking I want to come back next year and go even faster and try and make it past the school state level,” he said. 

“I was a bit behind the pack with being an amputee compared to able-bodied people… and I thought ‘I don’t want to be behind the pack. I want to work twice as hard, three times as hard so that I can keep up with them or maybe even get in front of them’ and that really drove me to be better and become the best athlete I could be.” 

Hodge will be aiming for his third Paralympics at the National Swimming Trials in Brisbane from June 10-15. 

By Natalie McGarry, Paralympics Australia

Published: 9 April 2024