BELINDA Hocking and Jodi Elkington always had the X-factor when it came to talent, but it was their work ethic that lifted them above the pack, according to their former coaches.
And early yesterday at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, they delivered within hours of each other.
Wodonga’s Elkington all but wrapped up the long jump gold with three jumps to go. Hocking came from last early to blitz them in the 200-metre backstroke.
Elkington jumped a personal best first up and backed up with two more PBs in the six-round competition. She is now ranked No.1 in the world.
Frank Hohmann, who took Hocking from a freestyle age swimmer to a backstroker on the world stage at Albury, yesterday said she would “swim through a brick wall for a PB”.
“Belinda doesn’t fit the mould and, compared with US world champion Missy Franklin, she is quite small,” he said.
“Her kick is the key.
“Backstroke requires a deeper kick in the way your gait changes when you walk backwards — it is not natural.
“But that’s what drives her power, gives her speed. That is what showed in the third lap.
“In the past Belinda has been sucked into going out too hard, but when she hit the go button at the halfway mark she just swam through them.”
Elkington won the “showcase” long jump for disabled athletes with a series of personal bests.
The cerebral palsy sufferer represented Australia in track sprint events at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and London Paralympics.
Her first track and field coach Greg Simpson said hard work had transformed Elkington from swimmer to track and field star.
“Jodi wasn’t the most gifted athlete but she pushed herself to become a high achiever,” he said.
“Before the nationals that led to her Games, she could have tackled either the sprints or the long jump.
“After after a break following London, she decided to focus on the long jump.
“It was no overnight success, she worked hard and deserves every bit of that gold medal.”
Hohmann said Hocking started training at the Albury pool when she was 12 and made the national 50-metre freestyle final a year later.
“She didn’t make the backstroke final,” he said.
“But she had all the right ingredients to go beyond just a good age swimmer, strength of character, strong family support — travelling 130 kilometres a day to train.
“Because she devoured the workload, it was tough as a coach to keep pushing her.
“It paid off when she was picked up by the AIS at 16 years of age.”