BALLARAT beach volleyballer Tamsin Hinchley has won her place in a third Olympic Games.
Hinchley and veteran partner Nat Cook last night qualified for London when Australia won the Oceania zone FIVB Continental Cup women’s final against China.
Australia, which also featured the pairing of Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy, defeated the host nation in three-straight rubbers on the sand in Fuzhou.
Hinchley and Cook sealed their place in a hard-fought three-set battle 17-21, 21-17, 15-12.
Cook is in line to become Australia’s first female athlete to contest five summer Olympic Games.
Hinchley, nee Barnett, is set for a third Olympics having debuted in Sydney as an indoor volleyballer before switching to the sand and joining Cook in Beijing where they finished fifth.
The win means Australia will fill the maximum quota of two women’s beach volleyball teams in London.
Australia had already qualified one pair in Louise Bawden and Bec Palmer, who made the cut in world rankings last week which were finalised following grand slam events in Russia and Italy.
Hinchley and Cook were forced to seek an alternative route through the Continental Cup zone finals, which Australia qualified for earlier this year.
Their qualification relied on Artacho and Clancy in the team event.
Artacho-Clancy won the first rubber against China in two sets, 21-19 21-19 before Cook-Hinchley served up a 21-17 21-16 win in the second rubber.
The third and decisive set in the best of four match took 55 minutes before Cook-Hinchley tasted victory.
The Australian Olympic Committee’s official Twitter account last night reported there were tears and smiles on the sand in China when Australia clinched its spot.
Hinchley and Cook arrived in China from solid outings in the FIVB World Tour Moscow and Rome grand slam events this month.
Australia battled through the Continental Cup quarter-finals in a three sets to one win against Chinese Taipei.
Hinchley and Cook were pivotal to a 3-1 semi-final win against Thailand, which looked promising against Artacho-Clancy in the opening rubber in the Saturday match-up.
In a complicated qualification process, the now Melbourne-based Hinchley and Queensland-based Cook have spent most of the year chasing world rankings points overseas.
Hinchley, 32, and Cook, 37, reunited mid-last year to strengthen Australia’s Olympic beach volleyball bid.
Both had been partnering Australia’s rising stars through the early qualification rounds.