Australian Olympic gold medallist Chelsea Hodges has made the heartbreaking decision to retire from the sport aged just 22.

The Biloela-born breaststroke swimmer said “there simply weren’t enough breaststroke kicks left in me”, opting to pull out of next month’s Olympic trials in order to prioritise her future health.

Hodges, who has suffered from multiple hip injuries in her career, said it was not worth rolling the dice for one more shot at Olympic glory in Paris, crediting her doctor John Ward with being honest enough to tell her “the hard truth”.

“I had my first hip operation at 15 … and another one last year,” Hodges told Swimming Australia.

“I actually have the hips of a 60-year-old.

“I wanted one last chance at the Games but after six cortisone injections, I had to make a decision on my future.”

The 22-year-old won gold in the all-conquering 4x100m medley relay team in Tokyo, alongside Australian swimming royalty Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown and Cate Campbell.

Emma Mckeon of Australia, Kaylee Mckeown of Australia and Chelsea Hodges cheer

Chelsea Hodges (right) was part of Australia’s 4x100m medley relay gold-medal-winning Tokyo dream team with Emma Mckeon (left), Kaylee Mckeown and Cate Campbell.(Getty Images: Corbis/Tim Clayton)

Hodges’s swim in the final was described as “phenomenal” by head coach Rohan Taylor, limiting her time losses to America’s individual 100m breaststroke champion Lydia Jacoby to put the Aussies in a position to win gold and break the Olympic Record.

“Chelsea’s swim in that final was phenomenal … and it contributed to the team being able to take the gold medal,” Taylor said.

“She persevered for so long to make Paris possible, and she went so close, so it is with mixed emotions that I congratulate Chelsea on her wonderful career.”

Hodges retires as the current Australian record holder over the non-Olympic 50m breaststroke event and a two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner.

“I am completely at ease at calling time. I am excited about what my future holds,” Hodges said.

“I know this decision means I can continue working in my career as a nurse, where I am on my feet all day.

“And hopefully, all things going to plan, run on the beach with my kids. I’ll still be cheering on the Dolphins in Paris and can’t wait to see how the team goes.

“To come back from the injuries I’ve had … and to make this call, I’m so incredibly proud of myself, and hope others are too.”

The Australian Olympic trials take place in Brisbane from June 10 to June 15.

The Paris Olympics take place from July 24, with the swimming getting underway on July 27.

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