An Olympic dream that began in Bomaderry

LONDON CALLING: Volleyballer Aidan Zingel is all set to live the Olympic dream in London.THE Bomaderry Basketball Stadium is a long way from the London Olympics, but a journey that started there is set to continue to the world’s biggest sporting stage.There have been several twists and turns along the way for outstanding young volleyballer Aidan Zingel of Kiama Downs.The 207cm (almost six foot 10 inch) 21-year-old centre blocker earned his Olympic dream last week when Australia won the final spot in the Games after taking out the World and Asian qualifying tournament in Tokyo.“It was a tough tournament against some quality opposition and we started the tournament well, winning our first three games,” Mr Zingel said.“But after a two-day break we lost our next two, so in the end it came down to us having to win the last two games by 3-1 or better to qualify.“We did well to beat Korea 3-1 in the first of those games and in our final game against China things just clicked. We won the first set 21-12 and the Chinese really picked things up in the second, although we were able to win the last six points to lead two sets to nil.’It was a different story again in the third set as we played superbly to blow them off the court.“I can still remember when we had 13 match points – it was an unbelievable feeling, almost strange in fact and when we got the final point tears started flowing – it was incredible, there is no other way to describe it.“It’s still hard to believe what we have achieved, but when you put it into perspective you almost have to pinch yourself when you realise that we are going to the Olympics,” he said.After returning to Australia, Mr Zingel visited Kiama Downs to catch up with family and friends for the first time in about 10 months before heading back to Canberra last Monday to rejoin his Australian teammates for their Games preparation.Included in the lead-up to the Games is a tour of the US and Canada, matches in Europe and possibly Poland.When looking back on how he started his volleyball career, Zingel still smiles.“When I was 14 my Kiama High School sports teacher Garnet Pike insisted that I attend the try-outs for the NSW under-15 volleyball team, despite me never having played the game,” he said.He started travelling to the Bomaderry Basketball Stadium each Thursday night to play in the strong Shoalhaven junior competition, and during a major National Volleyball League competition at Bomaderry was noticed by the nation’s top coaches.“Within 12 months of that first trial I was in the Australian Institure of Sport Volleyball Program and the rest, as they say, is history.”He has played about 150 junior and youth games for Australia and almost 100 senior games. Last year Zingel was named the Australian Men’s Indoor Volleyball Player of the Year.“I have been playing professionally in the Italian League for the past two seasons and at the end of last year was selected in the World Allstars team to play the Italian national team and was completely blown away,” he said.“I was in total awe of some of the players in my team and absolutely loved the experience.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.