Grant Sorensen
Grant Sorensen

Young Ipswich Olympian quits Australian vollyball team

By Marco Monteverde

HAVING achieved his Olympic dream, Ipswich's Grant Sorensen has defied his coach's wishes by quitting international volleyball.

Only 22, Sorensen said a combination of injury and his desire to live in Queensland convinced him to turn his back on a European professional club contract he needed to justify his ongoing selection in the Australian team.

"When you're playing for money on the other side of the world, the last you thing you want to do is try to survive week in, week out for the next game," said Sorensen, who overcame knee surgery to be part of Australia's disappointing Olympic Games campaign in Athens.

"Clubs over there don't care if your knee's bad or your shoulder's bad, they just want you to play and win.

"Money was the only reason I was going to take the offer. I love playing and I always will, but I just don't want to be in that environment overseas.

"I set out and achieved what I wanted to."

Having moved home to Bundamba from Canberra, Sorensen will play for the University of Queensland in this summer's Australian Volleyball League and return to full-time architecture studies at the Queensland University of Technology next year.

His decision to turn down an offer from a Dutch club upset Australian coach Jon Uriarte, who discovered a couple of weeks before August's Olympics that the St Edmund's College old boy planned to make the Games his international swansong.

"Jon lost it there," Sorensen said.

"In his mind, coming from three Olympics and a bronze medal in Seoul (with Argentina), he compared himself to the players.

"I was just pulling out too early in his mind. Without going into it too much, he wasn't very impressed. He just thought I was young and being very ignorant."

Sorensen said he would have gladly continued playing for Australia if Uriarte had allowed him to study full-time.

"But it wasn't an option," he said.

"So I'm up here and trying to get on with getting work.

"Volleyball's an outlet for the way it should be ? relaxing, not a hobby, but just a normal pastime."

Ironically, Uriarte recently announced he would quit as Australian coach when his contract expired next month.

Sorensen first represented Australia in 2001 and the following year was part of the national team's world championship campaign in Argentina.

He played "a handful of rallies" in Athens, where Australia lost each of its five games.

Despite his limited court time, Sorensen felt he wasn't being punished by Uriarte over his decision to quit.

"We had a few injuries in the team and if I didn't play, we wouldn't have had anyone else to play in my position (hitter)," he said.

"If it had been a team where there were enough people ahead of me, then maybe he would have shunned me a little, but I was in a position where I had to play.

"Leading up to the Olympics, I played virtually the whole time.

"We were resting a few guys with severe injuries up until the Olympics."

Sorensen said the Australian team peaked on its pre-Games tour of Poland, which included a victory over the Netherlands.

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