Surfest: Ryan Callinan says knee injury will not hold him back from shot at CT return

Ryan Callinan is returningwith a renewed competitive drive at Surfest and says an ongoing knee problem will not hold him back from his shot at regaining a place on the championship tour.

ON BOARD: Sally Fitzgibbons and Ryan Callinan on Monday. Picture: Paul Danovaro

Callinan, a CT surfer in 2016, has not competed on the World Surf League qualifying series since the 10,000-point Cascais Proin early October last year.

The 25-year-old is on the road back frompatellar tendonitis, known as “jumper’s knee”, whichis an inflammation or injury of thepatellar tendon.

Well-knownfor his aerial skills and powerhouseturns, Callinan has had to scale back his surfing and work on strengthening the muscles around his left knee.

He returned to winMerewether Surfboard Club’s King of the Rocks event last month and starredin their second place finish at then Boardriders Battle last weekend at Newcastle.Callinan claimed three heats wins in the skins division on Saturday but was rested from some of Sunday’s action because of his injury.

However, Callinan said on Monday that he was ready to go for this week’s Burton Automotive Pro, the first 6000-point event of the men’s QS season, at Merewether.

“I had the end of last year off and didn’t go to Hawaii, just for it to get better and kind of takesome time for myself as well,” said Callinan, whose parents Garry and Janice died in February 2016 and May 2017 respectively.

“It was a bit of a double hitter to miss that and it’s been a while since I put on the rashie, but over the weekend I started to feel really good. It’s still there a little bit but it’s nothing I can’t push through. It’s not holding me back.”

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Asked if he would have to manage the injury for the rest of his career, he said: “I’m not sure at this stage.From all accounts, it should be something I can overcome. It’s just a long, slow process, but it’s definitely manageable around competition and surfing in general.

“It got really bad the middle of last year but it’s been on and off for a few years now, but not enough to hinder me.I was dealing with it all through Europe and when I got home, I was like, ‘I’ve got to take care of this’.”

Working with trainer Adam Trypas, Callinan has seen “really big improvements in four months” since pinpointing the problem.

“To me, it feels like it will clear up,” he said.“When Istarted, I could maybe surf half a normal surf for one day then have a few days off.Now I can surf a few days and have a few days off, just depending on how hard I push it.”

Although a setback, the injury gave the popular goofy-footer a welcomed break from tour surfing.

“I had a bit of a lapse, for kind of a year and a half probably,” he said of his motivation to compete.“It just didn’t mean as much to me as it did when I first started.But in the time I had off, it really helped me to regain the drive. And putting the rashie back on over the weekend, and a fewweeks ago, I really felt something I haven’t in a long time. I’m just really excited for this year.”

Callinan, a wildcard entry, starts in the round of 96 at Surfest, possibly on Tuesday.

He took confidence from his performances so far this year.

“I haven’t really had the chance to test it too much. I had a boardriders comp here a few weeks ago but that was on twin fins,” he said.

“On Saturday, I had a few skins heats and that’s the first time I’ve really tested it.

“There wasn’t really the opportunity for anyairs but I felt like I waspushing pretty hard on the waves I gotand it was feeling really good.

“It was good signs for me heading into this event.”

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