The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world. Its the pinnacle of my sportand for all the athletes that take part. Everything about the olympics is electrifying. As soon as you step foot inside the olympic village you feel a buzz that you’ve never felt before. You are in an elite company inside that village and the good thing about the village is that everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter what country, size, shape or colour you are, everyone is treated equally.
For me personally, the best part of the village is the dining hall. Not only because it has a wide range of food that is free of course but because you get to mingle with other athletes from other countries and you see athletes that you never thought you’d see in real life. In 2004 it was Ian Thorpe, 2008 it was LeBron James, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
The atmosphere is so high in the village you really have to stop yourself sometimes and refocus on what you are there for. Its very easy to get caught up in all the hype, with the media everywhere and the athletes it can be a distraction. In 2004 I remember going up on the roof of our apartment and taking a few minutes just to think about the 1st game, which was a few days away, and what attitude and how I should approach the games. When there is a lot riding on the games/tournament the more doubts you start to get. Its very important to control your thoughts and not think too far in the future and not to think about the past, try as much as possible to stay on task and in the moment. That’s what I said to myself on the roof that day, enjoy the experience, give myself every chance to play well every game and don’t die wondering, go out there and play my normal game and have belief that I belonged there. I’m glad I spent that moment up on the roof in Athens just to refocus and keep things real. In the end I was happy with the way I played and the attitude I took into every game.
London will be much harder. We are the number 1 team in the world, everyone is chasing us, there is not much difference between the top 10 teams in the world. We are very lucky that we have a very smart man to lead us and guide us along the journey.
Ric Charlesworth is our coach and he’s easily the best coach I’ve had. Ric has achieved a lot over his 60 years. He’s a doctor, was in politics for over 10 years, played cricket for Western Australia, was named in 5 Olympics, carried the Olympic flag in 1988, wrote 3 books, assistant coach of the Fremantle Dockers, coached a very successful Hockeyroos in the 90′s, assistant coach of New Zealand cricket and more. I’m pretty sure that Ric only sleeps a couple of hours a night and has done this his whole live to fit all that in. Since he’s been in charge of the Kookaburras we’ve won everything (3 Champion Trophies, a World Cup and a Commonwealth Games).
Ric learnt how to communicate to a group when he was in politics, he learnt teamwork and how to be vigilant when he was practicing being a doctor, his passion is hockey and the most important thing is that we (the Kookaburras) believe every word he says. Why do we believe in him so much? Because he’s created a style of play which suits us and its different than any other team in the world. He challenges us as players and as a team to keep raising the bar. He’s made our squad more flexible than ever. He coached the Hockeyroos and made them the best team in the world for 8 straight years, he knows what it takes to stay at the top, he’s even written a book about it. He will guide us the best he can but at the end of the day, its up to the players to execute the skills out on the turf. Every individual, every incident, every singly time for 70 minutes, relentlessly.
I hope you enjoyed the read.