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01/06/2016 09:51
Swedish 39-year-old mom and her partner enjoy EuroBeachVolley to the fullest
2016 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship - Final

Biel / Bienne, Switzerland, June 1, 2016. Anne Lie Rininsland and Karin Lundqvist of Sweden are the last addition to the line-up of the 2016 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Final as their participation was confirmed on Tuesday night only. This is some kind of dream-come-true for the 39-year Rininsland, the oldest player of the tournament and a mother of two kids. On Wednesday early morning she and partner Lundqvist started their campaign in Biel / Bienne with a three-set loss to Dominika Nestarcova and Natalia Dubovcova of Slovakia, but they do hope there is more to come for the only pair from Sweden competing this week on the shores of Lake Biel.

The 2016 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship Final is being extensively covered on the CEV website (click here) as well as on all CEV social media pages; a comprehensive live gallery of the competition is available here while additional information can be found on the organisers’ website

Rininsland started playing Beach Volleyball when she was 20 and quite interestingly she has never played indoors. “Actually I was more involved in other sports when I was younger, and for instance in track and field and figure skating,” Rininsland recalled. “After graduating from high school and spending one year in the US, I came home and I somehow realised that I was kind of suited to ball games, and especially to those where you use your hands and not your feet,” she added.

She lives in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city which also hosts the world’s largest indoor Beach Volleyball centre and this is where she has been practicing ever since. “I started playing Beach Volleyball just for fun and after that I went to some international competitions, including stops of the World Tour, because I wanted to see other players and realise where I stood. Actually this did not happen that often because I never had a regular partner to play with,” Rininsland continued.

Lundqvist, on the other hand, started playing the game when she was about 10 years old and has been a leading personality in Swedish Beach Volleyball for many years. Back in 2013 she competed at the European Championship Final in Klagenfurt and yet again she did resume to the venue only the night before the start of the tournament. “We received a phone call at 2pm, I immediately made contact with my partner [Nina Grawender], I booked the flight and we boarded a plane at 4pm or so. We ended up winning the pool and finished the tournament in ninth place, which was quite an outstanding result for being such late entry.”

Grawender suffered a back injury last year which prevented her and Lundqvist from representing Sweden at the Baku 2015 European Games. This is when Lundqvist and Rininsland crossed their ways. “We just practiced for half an hour together and we ended up winning the first tournament we contested in Sweden. We practically dominated the national tour last summer and we realised that this partnership is something that could work,” Karin recalled. “We played the fourth round of the Continental Cup in Sochi, an event we eventually won, thus qualifying for the finals. However, we did not make any real plans for the future as I did not know if Nina was going to come back and Anne Lie has some commitments towards her family also.”

Earlier this year Lundqvist travelled to Hawaii where she practiced for three months under the guidance of her coach and together with a number of players, including Grawender, whilst Rininsland stayed at home in Gothenburg, taking good care of her two kids, Simon and Lukas, who are now six and eight years old. “We re-united after Karin came back from Hawaii but we have little time to train together as she lives in Stockholm and I live in Gothenburg,” Rininsland said. “This means that we mostly practice when we travel or play a tournament. Luckily my husband and my parents as well as my parents in law are extremely supportive and they help us make this work. My husband really wants me to play; as for my kids, sometimes they miss mommy, and this applies especially to the youngest one, as he does not fully realise for how long I will be away and it happens he misses me right on the first night when I am gone.”

However, family and kids have helped Rininsland have a different approach to her favourite game. “Well, especially after my first child was born, everything changed. I realised that even after losing, this was not the end of this world and I always had something good to come back to when going home,” she emotionally recalled. “Three years ago I had some kind of burn-out and did not know if I was ever going to play again. So I just feel like I am very fortunate and thankful to all those who are helping me make this happen.”

Rininsland, who is 20 years older than the youngest player in the tournament, Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova, and Lundqvist do not just want to enjoy the moment though. “Our short-term goal is to make it out of our pool and after that I believe that the competition is mostly with yourself. Personally I do want to improve on the ninth place I achieved with Nina Grawender back in 2013,” Lundqvist said.

As for Rininsland, who acknowledges her partner is the boss on court, but laughed after stating that “I am the boss at home, so I happily relinquish this role when playing,” she added: “Being a mom and having a family has taught me a lot. I am now a lot more patient than before, and there is a sense of thankfulness for everything I do. I feel very privileged for what I am doing and want to enjoy it to the fullest.”

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