2017-05-26 09:29:00 CET
The impressive story of Tri Bourne dealing with his illness
Tri Bourne has always been on the run. “I was either training, working out, body surfing in the ocean or playing basketball or golf,” the beach volleyball pro from Hawaii tells us. Besides that, he played all stops of the Swatch Major Series last year and, all in all, 19 tournaments on the FIVB World Tour.
However, at the moment, Tri’s world is upside down: The US national player is sitting at a table at home, slowly eating his breakfast. He is experiencing what deceleration means - but not voluntarily: At the end of last year, the 27-year-old felt tired and exhausted. Every joint in his body was swollen, his muscles were getting weaker. He had no idea where this disease came from, but two days before Fort Lauderdale Major, he had to pull out of the tournament through injury and find a replacement. Tri’s regular partner John Hyden played with Ryan Doherty. The pair finished fourth, just missing out on a bronze medal. For now, John and Ryan remain as a partnership.
A long time of uncertainty
“I do not know when and if I can come back,” Tri tells us. “The illness came as quite a shock to my system.” He had to go through a long time of uncertainty not knowing what kind of illness distracted his body that way. “That was really frustrating,” he says. Tri visited one doctor after another, and also talked to the doctor of Olympic champion Kira Walkenhorst, who had Pfeiffer's disease in 2014 and 2015. “Our symptoms have been similar, that’s what brought me to the thought,” says Tri. But his illness is different: he has a chronic inflammatory muscle disease called dermatomyositis caused by minor surgery in October to remove a cyst that was pinching a nerve in his ankle. Tri never had major injury in his career before, but this surgery somehow threw his body out of sync – that’s the theory.
235 Likes, 4 Comments - Tri (@tribourne) on Instagram: "Spending a lot of time workin on the body these days. 🤙🏽"
Now he is fighting to remove all the inflammation in his body. That means: no jumping, no running, no body surfing and, sadly, absolutely no beach volleyball. In Fort Lauderdale, he watched via the BeachStream. “I keep on working on volleyball, thinking of volleyball and analyzing as much as I can, so that I can use all this knowledge when I get back.” He also needs to take steroids against the inflammation. The steroid he is on is actually legal out of competition he found out. However, by the time he is playing in a competition, he will need to have it out of his system.
The way the American is dealing with his illness is inspiring. He is reading a lot of books, adjusted his nutrition by removing gluten, lactose and sugar from his diet, and he is trying to get the most out of this time. “Whatever situation comes to you, you can improve as a person and take advantage of it,” he says. Being so positive is not taken for granted. Tri knows whenever returns that he won’t have a partner, because Hyden, 44, has partnered with Ryan for the 2017 season. “This might be his last season and he needs to maintain his points and make his living with beach volleyball,” Tri says understandingly.
He is trying to help from outside now. At the AVP Tour in Huntington, he stepped in at the last minute to help Sean Rosenthal and Trevor Crabb. “But I would like to do that for another team, if somebody needs me,” says Tri. “I want to keep my mind sharp concerning beach volleyball.” Tri tries to be patient, but he also wishes very badly to return in the near future. His biggest dream is represent the US in the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo. With Hyden, he already qualified for the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 under the FIVB point system, but they were the third American team behind Dalhausser/Lucena and Gibb/Patterson, so they couldn’t compete.
Instead of the Olympics, Hyden/Bourne qualified for the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto at the end of the season and won the bronze medal. That was the last tournament for Tri. “I am happy that I still have the feeling in my head of the last victory and this podium place,” he says. It also brought some prize money – something Tri needs now. He is currently living from his savings and from the funding that the Olympic committee is giving to the best athletes. “It’s ok, but it’s not so much fun to see your saving going down.” He believes in his comeback – and the story of Kira Walkenhorst is helping him a lot. “It’s a positive outlook for me to see what she did after her long break.” Last season, two years after the start of her illness, Kira, together with Laura Ludwig, won the A1 Major Klagenfurt, Olympic gold in Rio and the Swatch World Tour Finals.
Discovering new skills
To keep him distracted until his comeback on the sand, Tri took a class in Hollywood – how to act in front of the camera. With a friend, he produced a video about his background and his roots in Hawaii. “I realized that being an athlete is having a window of opportunity. You cannot do this your whole life.” Therefore, he is trying to learn and develop as a person. The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships this year in Vienna won’t be a topic for him as a player. “Maybe I can do interviews, and be a part of this great event,” he says. “Tell me if I can help.” We would be happy to see you around, Tri.
We got a chance to visit with AVP player Tri Bourne back home in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Tri is an extraordinary athlete who includes many unconventional techniques into his training such as body surfing, free diving, canoe paddling and hiking. Tri shows us that training doesn't stop once he steps off the court.