Triple Olympian and Commonwealth Games dual gold medallist Belinda Hocking (Swimmer No. 663) has today announced her retirement from the sport of swimming.
The Wangaratta-born swimmer had a stellar career that saw her represent Australia at three Olympic Games; Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and just recently Rio in 2016, as well as three world championships; Rome 2009, Shanghai 2011 and Barcelona 2013 and two Commonwealth Games and two Pan Pacific Championships; Delhi and California in 2010 and Glasgow and the Gold Coast in 2014 respectively.
After initially starting her career with a 45-minute commute to and from training multiple times per week in regional Victoria, Hocking’s dedication to the sport was obvious and soon paid off with a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) when she was just 15.
She spent a number of years at the AIS under Olympic coach Shannon Rollason, who took her to her first Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and then to London in 2012.
Since 2008, the 26-year-old amassed a total of eight Australian long course titles, including an impressive seven in the 200m backstroke event (in ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, ‘16) and one in the 100m back (in ‘11) and was a dominant force on the domestic backstroke scene.
After over 20 years in the sport, Hocking said the decision to retire did not come lightly.
“I have been honoured and privileged to be a part of the Australian Swim Team for the past nine years, but the time has come where I am ready to part with competitive swimming,” Hocking said.
“It has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make but I am so excited and a little bit nervous for what the future will hold.
“Swimming has been a part of my life since I was four years old, and I have been swimming competitively for 13 years. It is something that will take time to adjust and something that may take years to adjust to, but I am extremely lucky to have such a great support system.”
Hocking had great international success and in 2011 she secured the silver medal in the 200m backstroke at the Shanghai World Championships and then repeated this feat in 2013 at the Barcelona World Championships.
Hocking soon moved her way up the international ranks and just a year later she won gold in the 200m backstroke at both the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships, showing off her trademark fast finish to steal the win at the wall.
Her Coach at Nunawading Rohan Taylor said seeing her make a breakthrough internationally was really exciting.
“Bindy was a true competitor, when there was a competition coming up she would be absolutely ready, switched on and up for a race,” Taylor said.
“I really enjoyed watching her race and always looked forward to competition time because I always knew she would give it a crack, no matter what the situation, she would step up and give it 100 per cent in her racing.”
While taking some time off in 2015 to concentrate on her university studies, Hocking injured her knee, suffered burn to her hand and had a car accident but remarkably came back from all of that to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
For her Coach at the time, Taylor, this was one of his highlights of her career.
“To see her get up and achieve this goal she had set for herself was fantastic,” Taylor said.
“She went out there and she executed her race plan and qualified for her third Olympic Games when the pressure was on, to see her achieve her goal was definitely a highlight.”
Hocking said she couldn’t have had the career she did without a wide support group including her Coach Rohan Taylor and her family.
“Anything in life, I have always said, is a team effort. I have been blessed with one of the best teams in the world,” Hocking said.
“To my coach Rohan, I was with you for just over 4 years, but I have grown more in the last 4 years than at any other stage in my life. You have helped shape me into the woman I am now.
There are no words to say how truly thankful I am to my Mum and Dad. I want to thank them for giving me every opportunity to achieve all my dreams, for moving interstate and for always being there for me during the highs and lows.
And of course, I wouldn’t be where I am without my wonderful Fiancé, Max. Thank you for the amazing support you have given me over the six years I’ve known you,” Hocking said.
Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said, “It has been a pleasure to see Bindy grow as a person and as a swimmer in her time on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team. She has had incredible international success in the pool. Bindy has been preparing for life outside of the pool for some time and will now switch her focus to completing a Bachelor of Primary School Teaching. We congratulate her on an outstanding professional swimming career and wish her all the best for the future. We know that she will stay connected with our sport.”