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Olympic windsurfing gold medallist Tom Ashley recovering after hip operation.

The Olympic championwould like be training on the English south coast in preparation for the 2011 Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, a series of races which serve as a pre-Olympic test event, starting on July 31.
Thanks to a touch of groin pain he first noticed four weeks ago on a training ride with his surgeon, and good friend, Mat Brick, he's not. Brick examined it, and Ashley was under the knife a week later. Ashley's femur was slightly the wrong shape and, because of that, was gradually beginning to wear away cartilage in his hip socket.
While Ashley is recovering, Jon-Paul Tobin, his sole rival for the slot available to New Zealand in the RS:X boardsailing regatta at the 2012 London Olympics, will be going hard off the Dorset coast.

"It was worse than he thought when he got in there and I probably wouldn't have made it another year without some pretty serious problems if he hadn't fixed it," he says.

It has been two weeks since the op and things are feeling a lot better. Ashley's begun training again – some cycling, some gym work, but is yet to get back out on the water.

"Maybe next week," he says.

There is one spot available for the nation's two top windsurfers next year, two athletes that could conceivably win gold and silver if the rules were different.

For Ashley and Tobin to make the Olympics, there's no magic time to beat, no placing in the field to gain, no international competitors to specifically blitz.

Their goal is simple. Be better than the other bloke. Push yourself as hard as you possibly can because you know he's doing the exact same thing.

Anything less isn't good enough. Anything less means a seat in front of the telly next August instead a spot in that fleet of Olympic sailboards off Dorset.

Their battle for that spot is filled with the same fierceness that pitted rowers Mahe Drysdale and Rob Waddell against each other in 2007 and 2008, ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Ashley's absence and Tobin's appearance in Weymouth later this month gives Tobin the slight edge.

But really it comes down mid-December, when the two compete in the RS:X world championships off Perth. From that regatta the Kiwi sailing selectors will chose who will fly the silver fern next year.

"It's tough but it's not something you can give too much thought to," Ashley says.

"You are racing against other people but the most important thing is to get yourself to the highest level possible.

"I've got to get myself into the best space possible and hope that's enough."

Ashley's Olympic campaign began in November 2009 after a year at Auckland University. Results since have been good with both Ashley and Tobin regular top five finishers in RS:X events in the past 18 months.

But along with his injury, the last six weeks have been frustrating for Ashley.

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