Paralympics 2020 – A peak into the lives of Two WSU Students post Paralympic Glory
Tim Hodge (left) & Gordon Allan (right)
Months after the Paralympic Games ended, W’SUP had contacted Tim Hodge and Gordon Allan, two students of WSU who represented Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, to check in with their life after representing the country.
Hodge responded that while he feels good to be finally back home after a long campaign, his life has become chaotic with the many media and public appearance opportunities, whilst juggling his university studies and resuming training for Commonwealth Games and World Championships post the Paralympic Games.
Allan, on the other hand, mentioned the experience of his first-ever Paralympic Games has been great and he has been overwhelmed talking about it at the various media opportunities and podcasts which all feels new to him so he has just taken his time to soak it all in.
After being delayed by a year and only able to view it through screens, the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics saw massive participation with about 4,403 athletes from 162 nations competing for the medals.
Western Sydney University (WSU) was fortunate enough to have two students participate in the renowned games, cyclist Gordon Allan and swimmer Timothy Hodge, who were also part of the 174 Paralympics contingent of Australia.
It was a matter of immense pride for Western Sydney University as Hodge, coached by Clinton Camilleri, an alumnus of Western Sydney University, won three medals – a bronze in 100m backstroke and a silver in 4x100m medley and 200m individual medley, respectively at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Hodge and Allan are current Western Sydney University students studying Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science, respectively. Hodge’s coach, Clinton Camilleri, is a former student of WSU who has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree. Hodge had previously represented Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympics and had won two bronze medals at the World Para Swimming Championships, London in 2019 and a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast.
Tokyo 2020 was Allan’s debut at the Paralympic Games, where he finished fifth and ninth in the Men’s time trial C1-3 classification and Mixed team sprint C1-5 classification, respectively. He had previously won a bronze at the 2019 Apeldoorn and silver at the 2020 Milton UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
All three athletes spoke with W’SUP’s editor, Ayush about their time at the games. The trio spoke candidly during the interaction as they talked about their experience at the games, swapping kits with other nations, receiving souvenirs like badges and pins, cheat meals and their lives outside of sport.
Hodge had begun swimming as a method of recovery at the age of nine after his right foot was amputated.
“I learnt to swim and would swim regularly in the backyard pool,” Hodge said.
“As a 9-year-old, participated in a swimming carnival, then moved up to state competitions where I finished 5th, came back year after year and get kept on improving and getting better than the previous years.”
Allan attributes his interest to cycling after accepting a challenge from a friend of his as a young child.
“I started cycling as a really young kid but had shelved the bike for a few years and then got back into it again as an 11-year-old kid who was dared by a mate to ride the bike down a hill,” Allan said.
Camilleri’s journey to becoming a coach came after retiring as a professional swimmer and moving up from a casual lifeguard position.
“I was a swimmer myself and after retiring I became a casual lifeguard on the weekends and later moved into a coaching role with ‘Learn to Swim’ squads and just went on and on,” Camilleri said.
Due to the global pandemic, the Japanese government required all international athletes to undergo the necessary 14-day quarantine. While this could be stifling and boring for some, the three Australians managed to find different ways to pass the time. Ranging from Allan’s stationary bike delivered to his room to playing video games, the three men were well looked after.
Hodge has resumed his training and is aiming to return to the international stage in Paris 2024, where he hopes to improve on his results and timings from Tokyo.
Hodge also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to the University for all the support he received from the University community via social media messages and publications, adding that the sports culture at Western Sydney University is great and it was this support during his Paralympic journey that helped him get through the long period of training, preparations till he finally stood at the blocks to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Ayush is an editor for W’SUP.
Tileah Dobson is an editor for W’SUP and the news and queer editor for the Sydney Sentinel.