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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 11522

Mr LYONS (Bass) (12:18): I rise to congratulate a sporting champion from my electorate of Bass, Paralympian gold medallist, Todd Hodgetts. Todd recently won a gold medal in the F20 division of the shot put, the intellectual disability division, with a massive 16.29-metre effort. Todd, who has been a victim of bullying in his life, described the win as the best day of his life, 'Just like being in a Hollywood movie.' Nicknamed the 'Incredible Hulk', Todd battled inflammation in his elbow to beat his own world record not once but twice to claim the gold. Todd is an inspiration to all young athletes, especially those who have suffered from hardships and especially from bullying. Todd's father said that he is sure that Todd would do anything he could to stop bullying, especially in the schoolyard, as the issue is so close to his heart. It goes to show that hard work, dedication and perseverance pay off and in Todd's case, his 14-year-old boyhood dream has now come true. Todd's family first knew he was going to be champion at an early age. One of Todd's elder brothers, Heath, brought a shot-put home from school and told Todd that, if he could hit the farm fence many yards away, he could go to the Paralympics. And Todd hit the fence. Since the age of 14, Todd has been training three times a day and has had some great coaches assisting him to reach the high level that he has today. Todd's dad, Kevin, believes that Todd's greatest asset is his three older brothers. They have helped him to integrate and have always had faith and confidence in him. Kevin also describes Todd as a lovable character who has battled all the way along but who has never given up and has always remained strong and dedicated to his training and his sport.

Todd's Mum and Dad are extremely proud of their Paralympian gold medallist son. But Todd did not need to win a gold medal to be a champion in his Dad's eyes, with Kevin saying that Todd did not have to win a medal to be someone special, because he has always been special in their eyes. I am sure that the love and support of Todd's Mum and Dad and his brothers have gone a long way to helping him get to where he is today. Todd's family has always believed that he could win a Paralympic gold medal, with Kevin telling me some months ago that Todd would go to the Paralympics and that he would bring home a gold medal. And he was right. Todd, a Tasmanian Institute of Sports scholarship holder and former weight lifter, has declared that he will be going to defend his title at Rio.

Todd's Dad believes that there must be many more Paralympians out there—they just do not know it yet. As Kevin said, 'If Todd can do it, anyone can do it.' This is a fantastic message for any budding athlete out there. Do not be afraid to take a risk. Do not be afraid to take a chance. You will never know if you do not have a go. Congratulations to Todd; it was a fantastic effort and an extremely well-deserved gold medal. I am sure that we will be seeing you again to defend your title in Rio and I look forward to that. I would like to encourage all Tasmanians to get behind our Paralympic superstar when he returns home and let him know that we are extremely proud of his efforts and his achievements. Well done, Todd. We look forward to seeing you in Rio.