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The Australian Olympic gold-winning swimmer retires unexpectedly at the age of 22 due to a health problem that usually affects people in their 60s.

By Andrew Prentice for Daily Mail Australia

01:24 May 24, 2024, updated 01:45 May 24, 2024

  • Chelsea Hodges, 22, retires from competitive swimming
  • The Australian won Olympic gold in the 4×100 m medley relay in Tokyo
  • The series of serious injuries left Hodges with no other option



Australian swimming star Chelsea Hodges was forced to retire just before the Paris Games as she battles agonizing hip and back problems typically seen in someone almost three times her age.

Hodges, who was a member of the women’s 4x100m medley relay team that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, made the distressing decision based on medical advice.

The 22-year-old is widely Considered Australia’s best female breaststroker, but retired after being told her injuries were so serious her hip resembled that of a 60-year-old woman.

Hodges knew his time was up when he had to withdraw from the recent Australian Swimming Championships due to injury.

Australian swimming star Chelsea Hodges has been forced to withdraw immediately before the Paris Games due to painful hip and back discomfort.
Hodges, who was a member of the women’s 4x100m medley relay team (pictured, second from left) that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, made the distressing decision based on medical advice.

With the Olympic trials in Brisbane next month, Hodges wanted to go out on his own terms despite the emotion behind the decision.

‘Having pain all the time is very exhausting. You’re mentally and physically exhausted,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘I just wanted the pain to end. I feel like someone is crushing my bones every time I move and (then) drilling a hole in my leg.

“Once it started hurting again, I think I knew deep down that Paris wasn’t going to happen. I’m not thrilled about having to retire… but once I knew what my life would be like if I continued, it was an easy decision.’

Hodges has been forced to endure a series of injuries since her teenage years.

The 22-year-old said the pain from her injury is so intense that “it feels like someone is putting a hole in my leg.”

At 15, He needed surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left hip and then, in 2022, he tested positive for COVID, which worsened his asthma.

A knee injury followed before spending a spell in hospital due to low blood sugar.

Incredibly, last year Hodges suffered a stress fracture in his back, which meant he was out of the water for six weeks.

Currently studying to be a nurse, along with possible plans to get pregnant, Hodges is confident she has made the right decision.

Specialists told him that swimming could be detrimental to his team’s long-term health, so in the end the decision was the right one.

Hodges will also attend the Olympic trials in Brisbane next month to cheer on his former teammates, but is unlikely to watch the 100m breaststroke final as it will be “too raw”.

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