Minutes after New South Wales Institute of Sport scholarship athlete Tim Hodge shaved 0.03 seconds off his own world record for the 200m men’s Individual Medley S9 at the Australian Swimming Trials 2024 to qualify for his third Paralympics campaign, he spoke about his desire to win gold at Paris.

The 23-year-old won two silvers and a bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, but he didn’t hide how important the dream of stepping onto top place of the podium in Paris is to him when he was interviewed on national television.

“To win Paralympic gold, it would be a lifetime achievement,” Hodge told Channel Nine commentator, and Olympic gold medallist, Giaan Rooney. “I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve achieved every major gold medal in my sport to date and the world record too.

“So the only thing missing is Paralympic gold. If I can achieve that this year, that will be the ultimate accomplishment . . .  I can feel confident that if my career was to end tomorrow, I’d be satisfied.”

Hodge, who has also competed at two Commonwealth Games and three world championships, outlined his aspirations – and the resilience that’s required – to win gold at Paris when he featured in the NSWIS Lights Up documentary series earlier this year.

“The one thing I have remaining is to win a Paralympic gold medal,” he said. “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.” 

As well as the medals, Hodge made it clear he values the legacy he is creating for the next generation of swimmers.  

“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 drive to succeed in the pool came from aspiring to be like his hero – and Paralympic great – Matthew Cowdrey, he credits a conversation with his mother for providing him with the insight needed to succeed in and out of the pool. 

“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 instinctively 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.” 

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