One team heading to London with dreams of a gold medal is Australia. Ranked number three in the world, in the past few major tournaments they have been thwarted by either a consistently successful Netherlands or the sporadically brilliant Argentina.
Title victories at the 2013 Oceania Cup and another at the 2014 Commonwealth Games are the only gold medals the Hockeyroos have won for more than a decade and they are a team that desperately would like to turn silver to gold.
Approaching her 100th cap in the famous gold and green of Australia, Georgie Parker is a player who knows the pain of defeat at the top level. She was part of the team that won silver at the Hockey World League Finals in Tucuman, Argentina in 2013 and then again against the Dutch at the Hockey World Cup final of 2014.
“We took a very young team to the Hockey World League Finals last year, and our results showed that, [Australia finished sixth in the Argentina Hockey World League Final]" says Parker. “With every international experience you have as a player you learn and grow, so we have matured as a playing group. We now have a much larger group of players, with many more international caps all willing to put their hands up in big games. It is an exciting time for us and the future of Australian hockey.”
There is a note of steely determination in Parker’s voice as she says: “Every event we go to we are aiming to be the best we can be. With the Hockey Champions Trophy being so close to Rio we are hoping to be performing close to our best hockey, however we still need to keep our cards close to our chest for the big event. You don't win an Olympic games in June.”
And Adam Commens and his coaching staff has certainly been putting the team through its paces. “The past few months of training has been some of the hardest I have ever been involved in,” says Parker. “We are getting pushed to our limits physically and mentally, both on and off the pitch and are progressing really well as a unit. We are wanting to leave no stone un-turned and want to be the most prepared team heading to Rio.
“The only thing you can expect is the unexpected. We have no idea what will get thrown at us in Rio, or any tournament for that matter, so that is why we are planning and preparing for any and every situation. There is nothing more motivating than the prospect of winning a gold medal, and we are all putting everything into doing that.”
The past few months have not been easy for the 27-year-old. She explains: “I had a pretty rough 2015 with injuries and illness, and my passion for hockey was affected. I am back on track with my fitness and form, and my love for the sport has been reignited. My goal is to be part of the successful team heading to Rio, and if not part of the team, doing everything I can to push the team to success.”
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