Maryborough youngster pedals to prestigious club award
AT JUST 15, Maryborough's Tom Hodge has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the cycling ranks.
Three years after ditching the togs and goggles in favour of a bike, the former swimmer has gone from strength to strength to take out the Fraser Coast Cycling Club's most prestigious award.
In track, road and criterium events last year, Hodge was the one to watch, becoming the first of the current juniors to beat an A-grader.
It was therefore a fitting reward that he was named FCCC's 2014 club champion.
A teen of little words, Hodge, who received the honour during the club's season opening race last Sunday, was thrilled to be deemed the club's best rider for 2014.
"It was really exciting to win the club championship, especially racing against some of those older guys who have been racing most of their lives," he said.
"I wasn't really thinking of doing cycling competitively until two years ago so it was really surprising."
Although Hodge is striving for bigger things, his ability to squeeze the best of out himself during every performance is unquestioned.
He now joins World Tour competitor Jay McCarthy, Australian under-23 road race champion Jordan Kerby, Drapac Professional Cycling member Malcolm Rudolph and dual Queensland junior 19 men's individual time trial champion Dylan Newbery as former winners of the club champion award.
"It's amazing to think I have won the same trophy as those boys," Hodge said.
"Hopefully I can follow in their footsteps a bit."
While Hodge, whose sister Meagan, 14, is also a cyclist with a bright future, usually goes about his business with little fuss, the club certainly acknowledges his penchant for going the extra mile to improve his performance beyond the club cycling level.
"He travels to Bundaberg once a week to compete on Wednesdays and Brisbane to train sometimes and has also been to Melbourne and Sydney to compete at nationals," FCCC president Scott Gilmour said.
"He's got a lot of determination and drive to succeed.
"He's probably shone faster than some of the younger kids at the moment but we expected him to because he has that determination and that real 'I'm going to do this' attitude.
"We believe he has a lot of potential and that ability to go on with it."
Hodge's next challenge is the 2015 Queensland Junior Track Championships at Chandler Velodrome on Friday.
This will be his final year in the under-17 class and the St Mary's College student is hoping for more success on the track.
"Really for me, track has been a bit of fun so hopefully I can take out the points score race, which is a longer race that suits me more," he said.
"I've also got the 2000m pursuit which I should be up there for as well."
2014 FCCC trophy winners
Tom Hodge: A-grade road champion and club champion
Sean Cox: A-grade crit champion
Steve Case: B-grade road champion and B-grade crit champion
Clint Robinson: C-grade road champion
Bailey Walters: C-grade crit champion