AFTER seven years in a bubble, Belinda Hocking hopes a return to the “real world” will lead to medal success at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The Wangaratta-raised backstroker left the Australian Institute of Sport after a disappointing 2012 London Olympics — a personal best in the 100 metres lost amid a disastrous 200 metres where she failed to make the final.
In December that year, Hocking, now 22, moved from Canberra to Melbourne and the elite training squad at Nunawading.
“I was 15 when I got a scholarship at the AIS in Canberra,” she said yesterday.
“It’s a fantastic environment with everything for you — physiotherapists, massage, doctors, nutritionists — everyone on call.
“But it’s an institution and it’s very institutionalised.
“You don’t realise just how much until you step away from that.
“One of the best decisions I’ve made was to realise I had been there for seven years and that it was time to move on.
“I needed to learn how to do things in the real world — I now have to travel to go to the physio, the doctor is on the other side of town and I can’t get in with just five minutes notice.
“Melbourne has been great for me — I feel challenged, I have to take responsibility, in some ways I have had to grow up.”
Hocking begins her Games with the heats of the 100-metre backstroke on Friday and the final on Saturday.
That will be followed by both heats and final of the 200 metres on Sunday.
And the former Albury Swimming Club junior is after elusive gold.
Hocking, who this year was named winner of Victoria’s first swimmer of the year award, finished fourth in the 100 metres and 200 metres backstroke at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
“I was just off the mark which was very annoying — I want to be on the podium this time,” she said.
“I feel as if my form’s good but you never really know until race day.
“I was in really good form going into the London Olympics, did a PB in the 100 metres and then two days later missed the final for the 200 metres which was my main event.
“I’m feeling good at the moment and, hopefully, it all comes together on race day.”