Shoulder problems keep Commonwealth Games volleyball medallist Ben O'Dea sidelined
Last updated 13:28, May 21 2018
Ben O'Dea is currently unable to play due to a shoulder injury.
Ben O'Dea's hopes of rapidly building on Commonwealth Games success have been spiked.
The Gold Coast bronze medallist sought surgery on an injured shoulder post-Games so he could head back to the touring circuit, but is still seeking ACC approval.
"I applied for that before I went to the Games in the hope that when I arrived back I'd get that approval quickly and get the surgery done so I could get back competing again," O'Dea said.
"It was recently denied ... so now we're back to the drawing board.
"Knowing a few other athletes that got back from the Games, they arrived on Monday and had their surgery on Tuesday - it's been two or three months for me.
"It is what it is - I've just got to deal with it."
O'Dea and brother Sam's Games' bronze medals haven't changed their fortunes either.
"We do receive some funding from High Performance Sport New Zealand but we're not actually carded any more - we were carded in the past.
"Like anything, it's based on results. We need to start getting better results - I have been injured for the last two years and that's kept us out of competition.
"The only thing we can do is get healthy, start competing, get some good results and then hope to get those carded spots and that kind of support.
"Winning solves everything."
Sam is overseas playing in Germany with a German team-mate while Ben continues to do what work he can - including solar panel maintenance and modelling, despite having his car stolen just before the Games began.
"Sam and I are pretty good at finding ways to keep us going," O'Dea said.
"One of our coaches runs the Weet-Bix triathlons for kids so Sam does a bit of work for them.
"For us, the priority is definitely volleyball - everything else is secondary. But volleyball doesn't pay the bills yet so we still have to work to make our money.
"Everything we do is to try and get a bit more time overseas - we'd be overseas for probably about six months of the year."
O'Dea said beach volleyball was such a big thing overseas that it was hard to conceptualise for people in New Zealand
"There's around 30 or 40 tournaments a year, with a world circuit, an Asian tour. Prizemoney for those tournaments range anywhere between US$10,000 (NZ$14,500) and US$40-50,000 (NZ$58,000-72,500) for first prize. Let's say the top 10-15 teams are making a reasonable living, the top five may be making a good living.
"Like most sports, a lot of it's got to do with how you market yourself as well - the guys making the most money are doing a really good job marketing themselves.
"Winning solves everything," Ben O'Dea said.
O'Dea said to compete however was "super expensive".
"We have some awesome support from a few sponsors in NZ and a little from HPSNZ.
"That's sort of kept us going - but you're not really adding to the piggy bank; you're keeping the ball rolling. That's something you have to do until you're making money."
"There's money to be made but you have to be the cream of the crop."
Despite not being full-time professionals, the brothers train as if they are.
"We train on the sand six or seven times a week and we're in the gym five or six times a week."
That's a necessity for a physically taxing sport.
"On sand, it can be pretty tough - you can be playing in 18 degrees one week in The Netherlands and then the next week you're playing in 45 degrees in Qatar.
"You need to be fast, you need to be strong, you need to have a good cardio tank."
While sidelined, O'Dea has had a chance to ponder the benefits of their Games success.
"I love my sport and I know how awesome it is but sometimes, we come from a country where we don't get to showcase that very often.
"One of the really awesome things from the Comm Games is that while me and Sam may have gained a few fans, the sport of beach volleyball gained a few fans as well.