Cochrane targets podium at fourth Paralympics

Posted: 5pm 03 Aug 2021

Blake Cochrane, the former Southern Cross Catholic College student, may have been a late-call-up, but says he is “definitely ready” for his fourth Paralympic Games.

The 30-year-old swimmer missed selection for the original squad, but was drafted in last week when Australia was given an addition team place.

He is in Cairns for a pre-Games camp and will fly to Tokyo with the team on August 21, three days before the Games start, to compete in the SB7 100m Breaststroke, S8 100m Freestyle and possibly the relays.

Best of career

“I feel I’ve done the best swimming of my career over the last six months,” said Cochrane, who was at Southern Cross Swimming Club Scarborough, but is now with the USC Spartans high performance squad.

“The consistency is there and I’m really looking forward to the Games. I definitely feel ready and I’d love to get a 1:16.00 (1 minute 16 seconds) in the breaststroke.

“I’ve only done it once before in my career (1:16.91) and would like to step back on the podium again.

Familiar faces

“Gold may be a little out of reach, but I expect the same line-up from the World Championships (in 2019, when Cochrane won bronze).”

Cochrane, who lived on the peninsula for 18 years, will join a select group in Tokyo. Only 44 Australian athletes have competed in four Paralympics.

He returned with medals from the last three – silver in the SB7 100m breaststroke Beijing 2008; gold in SB7 100m Breaststroke and 4x100m Freestyle Relay at London 2012 silver SB8 100m Breaststroke Rio 2016.

'You're in'

But missed selection for Tokyo at the trials in June and in an interview with Swimming Australia admitted, while still training hard, he had “almost given up” hope.

“I was at the Grand Prix event in Brisbane when I found out they had a spot for me,” said Cochrane, who graduated from USC last year with a degree in Clinical Exercise Science.

“I was warming up to swim one of the last races I would for this year. They pulled me out of the pool and said, ‘we just want to let you know we’ve got a spot for you’.”

Blake Cochrane, who is at his fourth Paralympics. Picture Delly Carr, Swimming Australia

Relief and excitement

Cochrane told few people as he waited a week before it was confirmed and announced.

“It was such a sense of relief,” he said, “I was waiting for the process to unfold and had almost given up, but then to be told I was going to Tokyo, it’s just very exciting.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to continue doing the work even when you don’t really know what’s going to happen.

“This year there have been so many uncertainties, so I just tried to be in the best possible position to swim as fast as I can, continue training in the hope that this news would come through, which it has.

It's a privilege

“It’s a great way to finish the process of the last four or five years. These Games will be interesting. Slightly different, but certainly not disappointing.

“We are privileged to be able to represent the entire country and very aware that so many people cannot even go 5kms from home or travel overseas.”

“Ultimately, I love the sport I do, I love being healthy and training, and everything that comes after that is just a bonus.”

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