Only four Olympians make up the Australian squad hoping to reprise their gold medal performances in Seoul, Atlanta and Sydney
The Hockeyroos will be fielding 12 rookies on their Olympic squad this summer hoping that fresh blood will bring home the gold. With over 350 international appearances, Australia’s most capped female hockey player, Madonna Blyth will lead the Team in her third Olympic campaign. The Rio Games will be the 30-year-old’s second experience at captaining the side and she feels she has a lot of more experience under her belt this time around.
Blyth says she’s well aware of the amount of fresh faces on the 2016 hockey Team and that it is important for them to make the most of the occasion and not let it overwhelm them :“It’s obviously a privilege and special every time that I lead the girls out onto the pitch, but at an Olympic Games it’s even more so.
“A lot of different things happen around the Olympics so it’s important not to let the pressure get to them and to enjoy the overall experience. It’s great to have more experienced members of the team there who know what to expect, who can help prepare the girls for Rio.”
Joining Blyth in her third Games campaign will be Casey Sablowski, who was the youngest player at the Beijing 2008 Games. The pair will be supported by London 2012 Olympians Emily Smith and Jodie Kenny who will line up for their second Olympics in Rio.
Brooke Peris, Edwina Bone, Gabrielle Nance, Georgina Parker, Georgina Morgan, Grace Stewart, Jane-Anne Claxton, Karri McMahon, Kathryn Slattery, Kirstin Dwyer, Mariah Williams and Rachael Lynch will all make their Olympic debut.
Despite Rio being her first Olympic appearance, for goalkeeper Rachael Lynch this selection has been years in the making after she missed selection on the London 2012 Team.
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“It’s been my dream to go to the Olympics for such a long time, and after ten years of hard work and the disappointment of missing out the last time it was such a relief to see that I had made the team,” said Lynch who believes Australia’s overall success at the Olympics has inspired her to keep pushing for her own chance to call herself an Olympian.
Gracie Stewart will be youngest team member at 19
“Not just past Hockeyroos and Kookaburras teams, but other sports like water polo, the montage scenes of teams winning at the Olympics; that’s the feeling I’ve been chasing.”
Joining Lynch on the debutant roster is 19-year-old Grace Stewart who will be Australia’s youngest hockey player at the Games. Seeing her name on the selection list was a surreal moment for Stewart.
“I was in shock and I had to double check it was my name and when it was, it was pretty amazing,” said Stewart who is both nervous and excited to make her Olympic debut. We have a big three weeks of training ahead, and it will be pretty full on but it will be worth it knowing it will help us go better over there.”
Australia’s women head into the first South American Games as world number 3, and will compete in Pool B against Argentina (#2), Great Britain (6), USA (7), Japan (10) and India (13).
Competition starts on August 6 and will feature a new format. The top four from each of the two pools will progress to the all-or-nothing quarter-finals as each team pushes towards the gold medal match on August 18.
Brooke Peris, 23, Darwin, Perth *
Casey Sablowski, 27, Albion Park, St James ***
Edwina Bone , 28, Orange, Perth *
Emily Smith, 23, Crookwell , Langford **
Gabrielle Nance, 21, Kingscliff, Perth *
Georgie Parker, 27, Berri, West Leederville, *
Georgina Morgan, 23, Armidale, Leederville *
Grace Stewart, 19, Gerringong, Perth *
Jane-Anne Claxton, 23, Adelaide, Perth *
Jodie Kenny, 28, Wamuran, Perth **
Karri McMahon, 24, Berri, Perth *
Kathryn Slattery, 22, South Stirling, Perth *
Kirstin Dwyer , 21, Mackay, North Perth *
Madonna Blyth, 30, Brisbane, Perth ***
Mariah Williams, 21, Parkes, Perth *
Rachael Lynch, 28, Melbourne *
* 1st Olympic Games
** 2nd Olympic Games
*** 3rd Olympic Games