World Record Holder Overcomes Massive Personal Challenges
Arnold and Sue Cummins
At the age of eight, Todd Hodgetts was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. Throughout his school years he was misunderstood and bullied mercilessly by both his schoolmates and teachers. Although he was found to have great athletic ability, Todd was unable to obtain a sports scholarship. Undeterred, he saved up for six years to pay his own way to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Now, at twenty-four, he’s broken the F20 world shot put record, and is well on the way to the London Paralympics.
This Canberra-based sportsman has all but confirmed his place in Australia’s Paralympics team after achieving a world record for an F20 athlete during an international classification meet in Queensland at the beginning of the year. He threw 15.54 metres which easily surpassed the previous world record of 15.16 metres.
“I am delighted to have thrown so well in front of the international classification panel” said Todd. “To nail a big one when it mattered most was very satisfying, and to get the world record in the process is a big bonus. It was the best day of my life so far.”
It’s been far from plain sailing for Todd. As a very tall youngster with a disability, Todd’s early life in Launceston, Tasmania, was made a total misery by his schoolmates who badly beat him day after day. And his teachers, rather than helping, actually made things worse for him by punishing him for his reactions.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Todd has found inspiration from his faith to keep going, despite almost unbearable personal pressures placed upon him.
“My faith has helped a great deal” said Todd. “I came to realise that, no matter what challenges I was faced with, I had divine potential which would allow me to overcome any obstacle people might throw at me.” Living the Word of Wisdom also greatly helped Todd to hone his fitness, and keep himself healthy.
Todd is now coached by renowned Australian throwing coach, John Minns who said: “Todd has come a long way but it’s not over yet, we still have a lot to work on between now and the London Games. He is doing well.”
The Paralympics opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on 29 August, 2012.
PHOTO CREDIT: Image courtesy of Todd Hodgetts and used with permission.