Ever since Chelsea Hodges learnt to swim, she has been preparing for her moment to honour the green and gold.
Now, with less than two weeks until the Olympic Games kick off in Tokyo, the young Southport swimmer is only days away from achieving her lifelong ambition.
“The last 12 months have been a really big push from myself, my coach and support staff,” Hodges said.
“During the break for Covid, it gave me a lot more motivation than I had beforehand and it solidified that I wanted to be a Dolphin – I wanted to go to the Olympics.
“Being able to step up on that podium with that gold medal, I think every kid has that dream.”
Her debut selection sees her aspire to join the likes of Australian breaststroke legends Leisel Jones, Beverly Whitfield and Samantha Riley in medalling at the Olympics in the 100m breaststroke, an achievement that hasn’t been accomplished since Jones in 2008.
Hodges’ elite performances at this year’s Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide saw her swim a 1:05.99 in the 100m breaststroke to go under the Olympic qualifying time.
“I just put in more than I’ve ever put in before in swimming,” Hodges added.
“When I swam that race it was just an overflow of emotions because all of the hard work did pay off and all of the sacrifices, not that I had to make, but what my family had to make and my partner.”
Much like her family, Hodge’s swimming club and coach Sean Eels have been there since day one, motivating and igniting the drive for success.
“I’ve been with my coach for twelve years, we’ve got a really good relationship, he knows me better than I know myself,” she said.
“He’s seen me grow up as an individual and as a swimmer. I think it’s really good to highlight the importance of a coach-swimmer relationship – I would not be here without him.
“At Southport in 2012 we had six swimmers make the Olympic team and we got to see firsthand what it really takes and the excitement and raw emotions that come with representing Australia.
“You realise the honour it is to wear the green and gold.”
Good luck, Chelsea!