Home Aquatic Aussie Gold Medal Winning Breaststroke Ace Chelsea Hodges Announces Shock Retirement Just Weeks Before Paris Olympic Trials

Aussie Gold Medal Winning Breaststroke Ace Chelsea Hodges Announces Shock Retirement Just Weeks Before Paris Olympic Trials

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Aussie Gold Medal Winning Breaststroke Ace Chelsea Hodges Announces Shock Retirement Just Weeks Before Paris Olympic Trials

Australian breaststroke ace, Chelsea Hodges, a member of the Dolphins gold medal winning Olympic medley relay in Tokyo, has today announced her heart wrenching retirement from the sport she loved, just weeks away from the Paris Trials after an agonising career of pain and suffering.

In news that broke from the Gold Coast this morning, the 22-year-old has quit the sport effective immediately – after swimming in pain – doctors advising her she had run put of breaststroke kicks after years of chronic back, neck and shoulder surgeries.






Hodges swam a crucial breaststroke leg alongside Emma McKeon (butterfly), Kaylee McKeown (backstroke) and Cate Campbell (freestyle) in Australia’s all conquering foursome that won a dramatic Tokyo gold in a photo finish with archrivals the USA.

ABREAST OF THE TIMES: The style that took Chelsea Hodges to the Australian record in the 50m breaststroke.  Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

The Southport star, who in 2022 again joined McKeon and McKeown alongside Mollie O’Callaghan to win win medley relay gold alongside individual bronze in the 50 and 100m breaststroke at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, told the Sydney Morning Herald she has been forced into retirement due to painful hip and back problems which had required three operations in an attempt to rescue her career.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve been deliberating what my career and the rest of my life looks like; I’ve made the decision to retire from competitive swimming.” Hodges told Sydney Morning Herald Chief swimming writer Tom Decent in a heart-breaking interview.

“I’ve been taking a lot of medical advice. It’s hard … I’ve told my close friends and family.”

Hodges told Decent that since Tokyo, life had not been easy for the swimmer who has battled chronic injuries since she was 13. Doctors said Hodges was growing too quickly, a theory her mother didn’t believe.

“I literally walked behind the blocks (in Tokyo) and I thought to myself, ‘You cannot leave a single part of you in that water because we need it’,” Hodges said. “I love to look back on the photos.”

In 2022, the setbacks continued. Hodges had long COVID, which affected her asthma. Then came a knee injury before a hospitalisation due to low blood sugar levels.

“I always felt like it was one step forward, two steps back,” Hodges told Decent. “It is really hard to find that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Last year, things became worse. A stress fracture in her back forced Hodges out of the water for six weeks. After her next session, she couldn’t walk.

Hodges missed last year’s World Championships due to hip surgery.

“In December, my surgeon said to me that I’d only have so many breaststroke kicks left. I’d done damage to my femur. We needed to make sure that my breaststroke kick lasted until Paris. Unfortunately, I used up all those kicks,” she said.

“It’s very devastating. I went into that appointment with my partner and physio. All three of us sat there and then in the car with my partner, I just burst into tears.

“[Retirement] is not something you think about so early in your career. I definitely knew that something was wrong. You have that invincible attitude that a lot of us athletes have. Hearing those words brought me back to reality.”

A week before the Australian championships last month, Hodges thought she could still make the Olympic team. Then came the return of the familiar stabbing pain.

It was, according to Hodges, “eight out of 10” pain for the best part of four weeks.

“I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t function as a human. Any basic movement would cause me a lot of pain,” Hodges said. “My hip was the worst it had ever been. I had micro-fracturing of my femur, re-torn the cartilage that got repaired in April. It was more than a mess. I had bone marrow swelling. My MRI was a mess.”

The time had come. Hodges wanted to know what her life would look like if she kept swimming. Was the pain only going to get worse?

Doctors said she would never be pain-free but could end up with limited mobility if she continued swimming. If Hodges fell pregnant, she might end up bedridden.

Hodges was forced to withdraw from last month’s Australian Swimming Championships making the biggest call of her career to retire from the sport that saw her reach great heights as one of Australia’s premier breaststrokers.

Hodges says she will attend Olympic trials in Brisbane next month to cheer on her old teammates. But don’t expect her to show up for the evening session of night two.

“I don’t think I will be there for the 100m breaststroke … that one will be a little too raw for me,” Hodges said. “I wish all the girls in that race luck. I’m a Dolphin forever and I’m an Olympian forever.”

The Australian Olympic Trials will be swum from June 10-15 at the Sleeman Aquatic Centre.

Some of the highlight’s of Chelsea Hodges brilliant career……thanks for the memories Chelsea.

 

 

Aug 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Australia relay team of Kaylee McKeown (AUS), Chelsea Hodges (AUS), Emma McKeon (AUS) and Cate Campbell (AUS) during the medals ceremony for the women's 4x100m medley relay during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

SHOW MEDALS: Chelsea Hodges (second left) on the Tokyo podium with Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

Jade Dixon and Chelsea Hodges

HAPPY DAYS:The Australia champion Chelsea Hodges. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Chelsea Hodges Austv rec

AUSTRALIAN RECORD: To Chelsea Hodges. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Aug 1, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kaylee McKeown (AUS), Chelsea Hodges (AUS) and Emma McKeon (AUS) celebrate their victory in the women's 4x100m medley final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports - Australia

ANXIOUS MOMENT: Chelsea Hodge4s (right) in the Tokyo gold medal fight with Emma McKeon and Kayelee McKeown. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher

PATRON DINNER Chelsea Hodges, Meg Harris, Mollie O'Callaghan, Madi Wilson

GOLDEN GIRLS: Chelsea Hodges (left) with Meg Harris, Mollie O’Callaghan and Madi Wilson. Photo Courtesy: Wade Brennan (Wade’s Photo)

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