When COVID-19 lockdowns became part of everyday life more than two years ago, we all had plenty of time for new hobbies.
Kim Hampton had just finished several years on the basketball court with Bendigo Braves and Kilsyth Cobras, but she wanted a new challenge.
While watching the para rowing at the Tokyo Olympics on television it all clicked. It wasn’t long before she was out on the water rowing on Lake Weeroona.
Hampton had never rowed before and it was a while before she was fully confident. “My first time solo was a bit scary,” she said.
“I still do get a bit nervous, but once I’ve finished a few laps of the lake. I really enjoy my time out on the water.”
Another challenge that has come Kim’s way has been a brain tumour diagnosis. After a series of tests it was determined the tumour is benign, but it has become fuel for her to work even harder to achieve her goals.
Her love for rowing is more than just an outlet for physical activity as it also unlocked mental benefits. “Especially during summer I go out on the water early in the morning as it’s quite peaceful,” she said.
To keep fitness and technique in check, Hampton rows several times per week both on the water and on dry land with an ergonomic rower at the BRC sheds. One element of her life that has made her new hobby difficult is the fact she is an amputee following an injury sustained while playing baseball nearly a decade ago.
After a few failed surgeries and knee replacements which led to excruciating pain, Hampton sourced further information on becoming an amputee. She then undertook the procedure and hasn’t looked back since.
Now with 18 months of extensive rowing experience to her name, she is aspiring to represent Australia at the 2026 Commonwealth Games if para rowing is added to the schedule.
“To be able to wear the green and gold, seriously, is a dream come true. Especially if I could do it here in Victoria,” she said.
She will also compete at the BRC’s upcoming sprint regatta, followed by a state-level rowing event and a masters competition a few months later.
Throughout the journey she has been working with BRC coach Bill Barton who has embraced her never-say-die attitude. “Her enthusiasm to succeed is definitely there,” he said.
“We’ve had a couple of hurdles to get over in the way of equipment to suit her body type which I am trying to sort out.”
Barton has been in contact with Melbourne-based Mercantile Rowing Club which has been assisting to develop tailor made equipment to suit Hampton.
“I’ve come up with a few prototypes for some ideas of what I am after,” he said. In addition to equipment, the pair have also been focused on refining her technique.
“Initially her upper body was in control and I had to get her to activate her leg to get her quadriceps working. It’s really helped her develop a smooth rowing movement,” Barton said.
Kim is also a AXIS Employment employee at Red Energy Arena.