Olympic beach volleyballer Hinchley forced to slow down

OLYMPIC beach volleyballer Tamsin Hinchley admits she may not be the most rational person when competing.

What athlete was rational when it came to elite competition?

The focus is on doing what it takes to win and make it to the top, pushing through pain.

But an ankle reconstruction has forced Hinchley to slow down and really take time to make her next sporting move.

The 33-year-old says she is learning to be patient and enjoy the uncertainty.

While she would love to be on the sand in Rio, Hinchley said there were still a lot of other factors to consider before another Olympic bid.

“I’m not going to worry about it yet. I need to get fit and strong again before making a decision,” Hinchley said.

“I do miss it, but I’ll play it by ear.

“Beach volleyball is different in that you need the right partner, and that can depend on timing, to play.

“I’ll worry about it later.”

Hinchley, who hails from Napoleons, sustained a 14-centimetre tear in her tibial tendon in her left foot while contesting a national tour event in St Kilda in February.

The tournament physiotherapist strapped her up after the initial assessment, and Hinchley continued playing three days and six matches to finish third.

Scans later revealed the extent of the injury – Hinchley had surgery, was on crutches for almost eight weeks and has spent the best part of the past month walking without the aids.

“It was tough. It was the last tournament of the summer and I pushed myself to continue,” Hinchley said.

“That’s a mistake when you’re injured, you don’t think properly all the time.

“As long as you’re dealing, you tell yourself to just get through to the end.”

Hinchley can still drive, still cook and still chase about after her three-and-a-half-year-old son Arley.

While sometimes annoyed at her lack of mobility, Arley often checks on his mum to make sure she is all right.

Occasionally, Arley says he has a sore foot too, in sympathy, but always quickly recovers at the suggestion he might need crutches.

Hinchley has thrown herself into coaching volleyball at St Michael’s Grammar School in St Kilda and taking on high school clinics when they crop up, mostly through the Victorian Olympic Council.

The Victorian Institute of Sport has played a big role in Hinchley’s rehabilitation, including tough cycle sessions.

Her focus is on injury prevention and coaching offers a fresh perspective on the sport.

“I love working with kids, they have a lot to offer and improve so quickly,” Hinchley said.

“I feel I’m still in the sport, and there’s no pressure to travel.”

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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