Tuesday, 10 July 2012
In Beijing, Blake Cochrane was a 17-year-old swimmer who was nervous just talking to teammate and Paralympic champion Matt Cowdrey.
But ahead of the London Games, the Queenslander plans to do a "Matt Cowdrey" of his own and bring home a swag of gold medals.
Cochrane is one of the leading lights of the 35-strong Paralympic swimming team, which was announced in Canberra on Tuesday - the last batch of athletes to be named before the Games get underway on August 29.
While plenty of attention will be on Cowdrey in his epic attempt to win three golds - and thereby become Australia's most successful Paralympian - Cochrane, 21, is also backing himself for multiple victories.
As reigning world 100m breaststroke champion, he's the odds-on favourite to take gold in the event, but is also a firm chance in the 50m and 100m freestyle, the 200m individual medley as well as two possible relays.
Cochrane chuckles when asked about his potential for following in Cowdrey's footsteps, but admits his aims are set equally high.
"You can never replace a name like Matthew Cowdrey because he's going to be that person that will probably be remembered as one of Australia's and, if not, the best Australian Paralympic athlete in history," he told AAP.
"It would take a lot of work to be able to fill those kinds of shoes.
"But if it comes down to me getting a few gold in London, well, then we'll see how I go again in four years' time."
Cochrane made do with silver in the 100m breaststroke in Beijing, but clinched his favouritism in the event at the 2009 and 2010 world champs and last year's Para Pan Pacs in Canada, where he again broke the world record.
Swimming is traditionally one of the country's strong suits, Australia having secured almost a third of its total Paralympic medals in the sport in Beijing.
Head coach Brendan Keogh is confident his squad can go better in London, where they aim to draw on the fierce rivalry between Australia and the Brits.
Australia will send five more swimmers to London than it did in Beijing, with about half to make their Paralympic debut.
Ellie Cole in the 100m butterfly and freestyle events, Katrina Porter in the 100m backstroke are also firm medal hopes, while Maddison Elliot is also attracting attention for being the youngest member of the swim team at just 13.
The Paralympic swimming competition begins at the Hyde Park Aquatics Centre on August 30.
Check out our FREE Interactive Speed Maps
for meetings in nine countries each and every day.