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Duo set sights on Birmingham 2022

Posted: 5pm 04 Nov 2021

Brenden Hall and Blake Cochrane, two of our region’s most decorated Paralympians, have their sights set on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The sporting futures of both swimmers – key figures in Australian teams since 2010 – were undecided following the Tokyo Games in September.

But Cochrane, a former Southern Cross student, announced his “athletic journey continues” at a Sports Stars lunch in the Eatons Hill Hotel last week.

The 30-year-old said the “rollercoaster” ride to Tokyo and winning medals helped rediscover his “passion” and “drive” for swimming.

Hall, who lives at Mango Hill, also has an eye on the Commonwealth Games trials next April.

Brenden Hall on the starting block. Picture Delly Carr Swimming Australia.

Training to have fun

“Hopefully swimming on, yes,” he said, “I’m just taking things one day at a time at the moment. Training to have fun. No pressure.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love training, I love the pain and the challenges, but seeing what happens with the world, with COVID … and we’ve got a baby due in December.

“I’m looking at open water, ocean swims for fun.”

Hall, 28, trained at Grace Lutheran College Rothwell and Lawnton Aquatic Centre, but is now with Harley Connolly at Burpengary Regional Aquatic Centre.

He won gold in the 400m Freestyle S9 at London 2012 and Rio 2016, but was fourth in Tokyo despite clocking 2 minutes 4.83 seconds, one of his best times in four years.

Blake Cochrane who rediscovered his passion for swimming

Rollercoaster ride

“I think 400m is for young guys,” Hall said, “I’m still within a nail of those guys, but perhaps it’ll be sprinting and the (100m) backstroke.”

The 28-year-old has also mapped a pathway, if he goes further, to the Paralympics in Paris 2024, by which time he would have finished a second degree - a Bachelor of Physiotherapy.

Blake Cochrane, a graduate from USC with a degree in Clinical Exercise Science who trains with the Spartans, said 12 months ago Tokyo may have been “the end” of his career.

“The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster, not just with COVID and delaying the games, the process I went through with selection,” the 30-year-old said.

“Missing the team originally, getting a spot through a one per cent chance, and then coming home with bronze and silver medals, I found that passion, that drive, I had lost.

Blake Cochrane who won bronze and silver in Tokyo. Picture Delly Carr, Swimming Australia

Single opportunity

“I realised again why swimming is so important. One of the reasons is having a young family, a two-year-old son and being able to reassess and prioritise things which are important in my life.”

Cochrane won bronze at Tokyo in the SB7 100m breaststroke, held as one race without heats, and a silver with the Australian 4x100m medley 34 points relay team.

“Five years of dedication and training went into a one minute and 16 seconds race,” he said.

“A lot of hard work for a single moment, a single opportunity, where if a single thing goes wrong it’s another four years.

“So I’m very grateful I hit that time (he forecast 1 minute 16 seconds for a medal in Tokyo) and got the bronze.”

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