Australian Olympic gold medallist Chelsea Hodges retires ahead of Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

Numerous operations have left her with "the hips of a 60-year-old", Hodges said. The swimmer was named in the Australian team that will compete in the Olympic Games in less than two months. She was instrumental in the Tokyo 2020 mixed relay gold medal.

With less than two months to go, she couldn't go on. The Australian Olympic gold medallist announced her retirement from swimming on Friday at the age of 22, just two months before the Paris Games. Injuries have taken their toll and she hasn't been able to overcome the consequences. Hodges said, "Too many operations have left me with the hips of a 60-year-old."

Australia's top breaststroker, she was expected to be in the French capital this summer. Along with Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown and Cate Campbell, she was a key part of the Australian 4x100m mixed relay team that won gold in Tokyo. Hodges couldn't have been clearer or more succinct when she told AFP, "I don't have any more breaststroke kicks in me. " She went on to say that she ruled out competing at Paris 2024.

"I had my first hip operation when I was 15... and another one last year," she recounted. "I wanted to have one last shot at the Games (in Paris), but after six cortisone injections I had to make a decision about my future."

This is undoubtedly sad news for swimming. Hodges' potential was great, and the bitter side of the sport has taken its toll on her at a young age. Her future was bright. Australian head coach Rohan Taylor said, "Hodges will remain with Swimming Australia as a performance support assistant."

"She persevered for so long to make Paris possible and came so close. It is with mixed emotions that I congratulate Chelsea on her wonderful career," he added. Hodges also won gold in the 4x50m medley relay at the 2022 Short Course Swimming World Championships.

Hodges, second from left, with the Australian team that won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games. GETTY IMAGES
Hodges, second from left, with the Australian team that won the gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games. GETTY IMAGES

The news has had an impact in her home country, where she was one of the hopes for a repeat at Paris 2024. Hodges was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2022. She has always been regarded as one of the country's great athletes, especially considering her age and potential.

Furthermore, the Australian swimming community is still reeling after double Olympic medallist Mac Horton announced his retirement in January. Horton cited a lack of motivation at 27, following his double Olympic participation in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Rohan Taylor, coach of the Australian team, praised Horton as a sporting leader following his retirement announcement, "Mack is a person of great influence with a constructive vision and is simply a quality individual."