Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Olympic Parades

No rest for the wicked, well only three days after we were greeted by the Prime Minister at the QANTAS hanger before we jumped back on a plane to kick-of the "Welcome Home" parades.

We had seven parades in seven cities in nine days.  It has been epic, and something that I will remember forever, a nice little momento to tag on to the end of my Olympic memories!

Each city put on there own special public celebration.  Sydney kicked it off with a huge ticket tape parade down the streets of the CBD ending with a civic function at the Opera House where I got to catch up with dear friend Susan Faulkner.

Melbourne was next which a huge reception at Federation Square.  I was lucky enough that a lot of family and friends came down to see the celebrations.  It was great to see them, and to show off my medal :) Thanks to friends Shelly, Jack and Elle and cousins Trish, Marty, Creina, Lousie, Violet, Kylie and Kieren, Aunty Gab, Uncle Tim and of course the matriarch - Grandma!!

Next up was Adelaide.  The parade got cancelled as a hail storm was predicted, but that didn't stop the south aussies gathering in Rundall St Mall to welcome us.  The Adelaidians even provided us with Green and Gold 'Haighs' chocolate frogs.  My employer Aurecon was well represented in the crowd with a non-visible John Mason, but a very visible Ralph Balperio!

Then came my home town parade, and boy did Brisbane put it on for us.  There was a massive contingent of Queensland Olympians that paraded, and an even bigger audience up and down Queen Street Mall.  This was the only parade where our jackets weren't required...where else but Queensland!

I would like to give a special mention to the Stuartholme contingent, the Chaffin's and Nicola Johnson, the Aurecon contingent (whom I claim were'nt cheering loud enough to see/hear) the B&D and marketing chicks - Karen, Krista, Joanne, Sune and Romina, the Mareeba Road representatives, the Parer's (complete with Chelsea and Louis cheer squad), and the QAS water polo girls - Steph, Maddie, Hannah and Cas.  Thanks all so much for coming down!!

Our next destination was Hobart, and the only public celebration that fell on a weekend. It was a very chilly day indeed, but the sun did shine.  Many Tasmanians showed up with there autograph books and enthusiasm.  This was the only parade where we were stationed at "signing desks", it was nice to sit down for a change, and have some nice chats with the locals.  The Tasmanian Olympic Committee also arranged for some primary school competition winners to hit us with some hard questions in a Q&A before the celebrations.  It was a lovely touch to a fabulous weekend in Hobart (plus the Cadbury they gave us).

From Hobart to Perth, where most of the hockey guys and gals, and kayakers joined us as they are all based in the west.  The weather couldn't decide what it was doing, but the AOC came prepared, and supplied us with our very own "Olympic poncho".  This is where I had my first "fan sighting".  Thanks to Kassia who spotted me and asked for a photo stating "I read your blog!!".  Love it!

Perthians came out in numbers, and Aurecon and Stuartholme were once again represented.  Aurecon with good friends Jamie and Darren and recent GC half marathonist Jane, and Stuartholme with Olympic Games trooper (attended the games as well as the parades) Lauren.  

And last, but definitely not least was Canberra.  Most of the Olympians have been an AIS athlete at some stage, so it was a very nice feeling driving from the airport and heading to the Novotel instead of the institute.  As we have all spent a lot of time in Canberra it was great to see many familiar faces!  This parade also marked the history making feat by my teammate Bronwen Knox, the canoe queen Jess "silver" Fox and myself, as the only three Olympians to attend all parades.  Many other olympians asked how we did it, I guess the answer was similar to that of any sporting, determination, desire...pride, perseverance, passion (I'm just showing off the 'three's' that Layne Beachley taught me)

[The Canberra "Troopers" video can be seen here - Canberra caps off 'Welcome Home' tour ]

I would like to say a MASSIVE thanks to the AOC for organising these parades, in particular James Edwards and Georgie Exton, Toni and Gabby.  Also to Thomas Staunton of Sold Out Events for his coordinating expertise. To Accor Hotels for their hospitality and little treats they left all the Olympians on arrival.  And finally to QANTAS, for allowing the green and gold tracksuits to crash QANTAS Club every day for the past nine days!

I will keep posting as more Olympic things come, but it does kind of feel like the end of an era, arriving home from the's marked the end of the Olympics, what I've been working towards for the past eight years.  So, so long...for now :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

BRONZE is the new Gold

Things have been a bit quite from my end, as I haven’t updated my blog since the round games. I do apologise, but things have been a little bit hectic.  So in chronological order, here is what happened. 

We finished top of our pool after beating the Russian’s comfortably 11-8.  I was able to kick-start the scoring with this goal, pictured below.  This was always one of our goals, but the way the Olympic competition goes, as there are only eight teams in the women’s competition, everyone goes through to the quarter-finals, so this is where the games really count. 

So we came across China for our quarter-final.  We were confident going into this game as China hadn’t produced the goods in this tournament thus far, but how wrong could we be.  This game was the most tense game I can remember playing.  It was an extremely high-scoring affair, with a 13-13 scoreline at the end of regular time.  Neither team would give up in the two extra-time periods, so we were forced to go to a penalty shoot-out.  We have had so much practise at these, but things weren’t looking good when our first shooter missed…but it was meant to be, our next four shooters scored, and China cracked under the pressure.  The photo below shows the sheer delight in this victory…and also made the top 20 photos of the Olympic Games!

Our next opponent was the USA, the team we weren’t supposed to meet until the final, but Spain toppled them in the groups, so the semi-final it was!  And yet another extremely close game.  We thought it was done and dusted with 1 second to go, and the USA were up by one goal, but the USA coach called an illegal time-out (they weren’t in possession of the ball) which gave us a lifeline and a penalty…which we scored and sent the game into extra-time…once again.  This time it was the USA that took advantage of the extra six minutes of play, and in an instant it seemed our Olympic dream was shattered.  It was extremely disappointing to lose this semi-final, but meeting our family and friends after the game helped put a smile on my dial!

So to our Bronze medal game against Hungary.  This was a repeat of the 2008 Olympics, where Australia won Bronze in a penalty shoot-out, so were hoping to not put our family and friends in that position again…but we were wrong!  We let a comfortable lead disappear, but thought everything was won when we were leading with three seconds to go…but to no avail, the Hungos did a submarine act, surprised our goalie and scored with 1 second to go, sending us to extra-time for the third consecutive game. We made no mistake in the extra-time and buried the Hungo’s for good.  So we are the OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALLISTS!!!  Haven’t you heard, Bronze is the new Gold! 

We have now landed back in Australia, but will all reconvene for the Olympic parades around the country (as medallists we get to go to all of these).

I am sorry to provide such nail biting games, but no one can accuse us of not being entertaining!
Until next time

Monday, 6 August 2012

Semi-Final Update

We are playing USA at 3:30pm Tuesday, so it will be 12:30am Wednesday morning AUST EST. If you didn't get Monday off, surely you're bosses will allow a mid-week late-mark.
Send us all your positive Aussie vibes please!!

Victory celebrations after our epic win against China in the Quarter-Final.  Level at full-time, level after extra-time, won on the penalty shoot-out!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Quarter Final update

Our next game is at 8:20pm Sunday night (UK), so it will be on at 5:20am Monday (AUS). Maybe this isnt a "stay up late" viewing but a "get up early" one. 

C'mon Channel 9 - show the Aussie Stingers some support!!

Friday, 3 August 2012

And we're through to the Quarter Finals!!

A great game against Russia with an 11-8 victory.  We are now headed to the Quarter Finals against China on Sunday!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Let the Games begin!

I am writing to you from the Olympic Village after the start of our Olympic campaign, and a very good start it was.  Our first game on 30th July was against the European Champions, Italy.  The last time we played Italy they knocked us out of the medal rounds at the World Championships in 2011, so we definitely had something to prove.  And they knew about it…the whole way through the match.  The final score was 10-8, a comfortable victory, and a very hard fought one.

The next game in our campaign was our second round game against the home team and fast improving – Great Britain.  We were prepared for a tough game as the Brits played very well in their previous game against the Russians, being defeated by a punishing one goal in a 7-6 score-line. It was also a very highly anticipated game, as the last time we played (in the London Prepares series in May 2012) the Brits labelled the Aussies in the press “the dirtiest team ever”.  We haven’t responded to this, as we just want to let the score-line tell the story.  We played extremely well against the Brits with their very boisterous home crowd.  After a 6-2 first half, we knew we just had to keep chipping away at it, and chip we did, to make the final score 16-3.  Once again there has been some “whinging poms” in the press, check it out here

We are now preparing for our last ‘round’ match verse the Russians.  The result of this match will determine who will cross-over to the weakest team in the other pool, so it is a very important game.  As such, on our days “off” we have been doing three training sessions, to make sure we are prepared for almost everything. 

On a more festive note, since I blogged last, we got to march in the London 2012 Olympic Games OPENING CEREMONY.  It was an absolutely amazing experience, and something I will remember forever.  I met a lot of athletes from around the world, and got to dance the night away with the best from Australia.  My teammate Victoria Brown (pictured below) and I apparently got quite a lot of air time during the ceremony, and this picture featured in some of the press in the UK. 

Also on a lighter note, the Australian Olympic Committee arranged a photo shoot for the Aussie Stingers at the War Memorials in Westminster.  It was quite strange wandering around in our togs and robes, but we certainly made for some unplanned tourist attraction.

Until next time, and from the quarters, semis or grand-final