BELINDA Hocking tuned up for the 200 metres backstroke with a stunning back half in the 100-metre final yesterday.
The Wangaratta swimmer turned in last position at the 50 metres before passing no less than five finalists to take the Commonwealth Games bronze medal.
Hocking, who is more of a 200-metre backstroke specialist, gave leader and ultimately gold medallist Emily Seebohm 0.71 seconds at the halfway mark but brought home the last 50 metres in 30.22 to take .20 seconds off.
The bronze was Hocking’s first Commonwealth Games medal following fourths in both the 100 metres and 200 metres in Delhi.
Hocking said it was a relief that she had gone one better than Delhi.
“Last Commonwealth Games I was fourth place twice. So I’m happy with bronze.”
Seebohm, 22, clocked 59.37 seconds to defend her 100 metres backstroke title.
It broke a long drought for Seebohm, who had not stood on top of the 100-metre backstroke podium at a major meet since Delhi 2010 where she nabbed a total of eight medals.
Since then there have been the tears of London where she infamously blamed a fixation with social media for missing out on Olympic gold.
She now turns her attention to the 200 metres backstroke.
Hocking (2:11.07), Seebohm (2:11.47) and Madi Wilson (2:11.53) all qualified in last night’s 200-metre backstroke final, behind fastest qualifier Hilary Caldwell (2:09.47) of Canada — the final was to be swum early this morning.
The bronze medal vindicates the former Albury Swim Club member’s decision to leave 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.
“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.”
Australians Jayden Hadler (52.81) and Chris Wright (52.89) qualified second and third fastest respectively for the 100 metres butterfly semis behind South African star Chad le Clos (52.68).