Friday, 30 November 2012

Normal Life?

So it's now been over 3 months since the Olympics ended and the time has just flown by. I have been back working at ARCBS (Australia Red Cross Blood Service), I have been on not only 1 but 2 holidays (Spent October in the USA and traveled to Brazil for a week to play some polo in November). It's definitely been a couple of flat out months. I had a fantastic holiday in the States. I realized it was the first time I have been on a holiday in about 12 years where I haven't had to do any training or games. It was an absolute blast. Yes I did venture over all by my lonesome. But I was able to catch up with some great friends along the way. Plus all the people you get to meet.

Then out of the blue I got an offer from Brazil to come and play in there national club titles. Let's face it I needed all of 2 seconds to think about it before I said yes. The hardest part was getting the time off from work having just been away. However, again the ARCBS stepped up and gave me the 10 days off. Lucky for me I have a friend from Brazil who I met while I was attending Hartwick and who I was going to crash with during my time there. So I made the 30plus hour trek over to South America really excited about what I was going to experience there having never really ventured past northern Mexico. 

I had a blast!!! The girls were extremely friendly and welcoming. I was a little apprehensive having not trained since the Bronze medal game in London, but after the first game it was just like old times. Perhaps physically a little slower and weaker.... I enjoyed my Brazilian experience immensely and a hoping to get a invited next year and possibly be able to swing a couple more days into the trip. 

Training Pool in Brazil.... beautiful!
Now it's the 1st of December and I'm back at work and heading into the festive season. Although I have been doing some light activity most days I am really enjoying not being on a strict training schedule and having the flexibility to fit in exercising around my life, rather than the other way around. I have also had time to consider my options and with returning to university for my final semester I have had to consider what is next for me within sport. Is it time to retire? Hang up my cozzies and cap for good?

But alas I don't think I am quite there yet. I have committed myself to another 7-ish months of training with the national team in hopes of making the 2013 World Championship team headed for Barcelona in July. It will be tough with a number of girls returning and the younger generations chasing our tails. But I am excited to continue to play as long as I am still finding the enjoyment in the challenge of the game.

So it's back to National League and National team come January 2013. Definitely going to enjoy this last month of complete freedom before having to buckle down for the hard yards ahead. Fitness testing is just around the corner...

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Since London

So since London things have been very very hectic. We had the Welcome Home Parades, where Jane Moran, Jess Fox and Myself attended every city on the tour. And what a tour! Each city put on a spectacular show! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who was involved with the organisation of the events and everyone who came out to welcome us back. I had such a great time meeting new people and making some great new friends.

Now it’s back to reality. Started back at work (Australian Red Cross Blood Service) after 8 months of leave without pay and it’s great to be back. All the staff have been fantastic with helping me get back into the swing of things. It’s like I never left. I have also been visiting some schools and chatting to the students about my experience at the Games. Plus the Bronze medal definitely gets me some bonus points.
But work aside; I have been planning my trip overseas to the USA. I am heading back to my college, as I have the tremendous honour of being inducted into the Hartwick College Athletic Hall of Fame. I am very excited to head back for the visit. I am staying over in the States until the end of October, touring from New York down the East Coast towards Miami.

I have also moved in with an old friend, as she recently bought this amazing house that funnily enough her parents owned about 20 years ago. Moving has both its ups and downs. Perfect time for a massive spring-clean, but horrible for my allergies and such a hassle to organising, pack and then unpack. I finally unpacked the last box about 5 days ago and have started to settle in to the new place.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Been a bit slack....

Sorry to all who have been checking for updates.... got a little busy. But hopefully you all could catch a glimpse or two of our games or at least the results. So closest games I have played in, headed into extra time in the Quarters, Semis and Final.... gee talk about a heart stopper. 

But as you all may already know, we came away with the Bronze!!! Great result! Although not what we went for. But how can you not be happy with that. Not every comes away with an Olympic Medal. 

A massive THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me over the last year, plus all of you who have followed by journey from the very beginning in 2000. 12 years of blood, swear, tears and hard work. Not sure where I am heading to from here, but am planning to enjoy my time off. To the Australian Red Cross Blood Service for all the time off, it's fantastic to be apart of an amazing company! To Griffith University for all there support and time off of the last few years. To the QAS, AIS and VIS thanks for everything you have provided me in regards to training and staff, fantastic work!

  With the parades next week and no uni until next year I am really looking forward to enjoying the next few months.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Quarter Final Time

Wow, the last few days have been hectic! Lots of training, meetings and games, we haven't had a lot of down time. But it seems things are paying off with finishing top of our pool and will be playing China in our quarter final. Seems like deja vu, as we played China in the quarter finals in Beijing. 

 Over the last few days we were lucky to get a sighting of some of the Royal family (Will, Harry and Kate). Even managed to get a happy snap with some of the girls and Will.

It's been great having a massive support team behind us during the games. Loads of green and gold in the stands as well as plenty of polo caps and crazy wigs, great to see. But now the real games begin, where one loss or bad quarter will see you miss out on a chance for a medal. So we are back and working hard on our mistakes in previous games so we aren't making the same ones. Working on all the little things.

Tomorrow will definitely get the nerves going.... Swim off to commence at 4:10 London time. Just a quick shout out to all of you who are up at all hours of the night to watch us play. Can definitely feel the support coming through the email,  texts, facebook and tweets.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Our first Game

With the London Games well and truly underway we have been very busy preparing for our first game against the Italians. Like us, the Aussie Sharks also drew the Italians as their first game. We were lucky enough to be able to take the time to head out to support the boys. Which was great for us as we were able to take in the venue, the size of the crowd and be able to get a feel of what our games may be like. The boys fought well but were unlucky to go down 8-5 in the end. 

After watching the boys game you could see a number of our first timers starting to feel the nerves. We had 24hrs until our game, 2 training session and 1 tactical meeting. We were almost there. There was excitement in the air as we knew all our friends and family would be there or watching back home and we had spent hours upon hours preparing for this game and were raring to play.
We left the Village and headed to the pool. Here we proceeded with our usual warm up and we were starting to get back into our usual routine. The nerves were at an all time high during the line up. But our team was prepared for this and we were itching to get the game started. We came out well with a 4-1 lead early. But with a few defensive errors it saw us level with the Italians at half time.

We stepped up our game and came out strong in the 3rd quarter with 4 unanswered goals (8-4). The last quarter saw the Italians throw in everything but we came away with the win at 10-8. It was a great team game, lots of good team goals. Looking forward to our next game against the hosts, Great Britain. So back to more training and video sessions.

Needless to say that our down time is mostly spent in front of the TV watching our fellow Aussies compete. Including some of the second half of the Kookaburras game where they smashed South Africa, the heart breaking loss of the Opals to France in over time, plus plenty of swimming and diving!! 

Thanks to all the support coming across the sea from Australia, as well as all the supporters in the crowd.... You're fantastic!! Keep it up! 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Selfie Expert Holly!

Selfie taken by Holly.... Love it!!!

Never a dull moment

Phew, the last few days have really flown by. Yesterday we had 2 training session, the official flag raising ceremony plus the Aussie Team Reception. All of which were very exciting. As not only are we apart of the Stingers we are also apart of the Australian Olympic Team in its entirety. The British put on a superb performance, lots of theatrics. We then headed to dinner and I got to sit down and have a chat with Laurie Lawrence and Chris Fydler. After dinner we headed to the team reception, hosted at the the Stratford City Westfield's. 

With a massive entrance to Waltzing Matilda with some Aussie fans screaming, and into the reception room. What an entrance!!! Here all the team will gather for the announcement of the flag bearer. Here we got to chat with the likes of Geoff Huegill, Grant Hackett, Dawn Fraser, Rove Mcmanus, Giaan Rooney, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, James Tomkins, John Farnham plus many many more. And, or course, dance to some of Johnie's classics. Lauren Jackson was announced as the 2012 Aussie Flag bearer, a well deserved honour. Also got to catch up with some of the past w.polo Olympians, Suzie Fraser, Amy Hetzel and Deb Watson. An amazing night, probably my favourite event at the Games!

Today is Opening Ceremony day..... fingers crossed the weather holds and we can walk. This morning we headed out early to catch the underground into the city to the Churchill War Rooms. Here we had some team photos in our cozzies... yeek! Got a lot of public attention, photos and had a ball. Plus one of our goalies, Macca, got to finally reunite with her partner after he finished his 6 month tour with the Navy. It is also our other goalie Veeb's birthday today... Happy Birthday Veebs!!! We got to sing and have cake in the Village dining hall. Never a dull moment. Photos should be out later this week...


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Arrivederci Varese… Allo’ London

Arrivederci Varese… Allo’ London

In our final week of preparation before heading off to London we were really cracking down on our tactics with video sessions and game analysis plus making sure our physical fitness was in tiptop shape. We also got some timeout on one of the days for a team outing to Lago Maggiore. It just so happened that we picked up a hitchhiker on the way and it turned out to be none other than Steve Waugh. With our entire team in tow plus Mr Waugh we were ready to brave the precarious 'bucket' on a wire to reach to top of the mountain. Luckily only a few of us were not good with heights.

             Thanks Miss Lincoln-Smith for completely blocking me, hoping someone has a better copy...

Upon our arrival at the top we were greeted with phenomenal views. It was here that we got down to the nitty and gritty that make up our team, and with declarations from the heart we were finally prepared for the road we will have to journey down to Olympic glory. Steve added some inspiring words and imparted some of his much valued knowledge. Finally with our last training session done, a 2 and a half hour hell session, we were very excited to head off to London.

 Arrived in the Village around midnight and were up the next day at 7am as we had uniform fittings, a little media, training and our induction and welcome meetings. It just so happend that Hamish and Andy were visiting the village in preparation for the channel 9 coverage and sat in on our induction done by Laurie Lawrence and Nick Green, with Steve Waugh, John Eales, Layne Beachley and Kieren Perkins all in attendance. With a few jokes here or there courtesy of the boys, it was a very inspiring and touching induction.  

Today we are finally setting into a routine and I am very much looking forward to the flag raising ceremony and the team reception. Fingers crossed the weather stays good and we are able to walk in the opening ceremony. Thanks for all the best wishes!!! I am hoping to have some sort of update every second day.

*** Thanks for the photos team, p.s. keep em coming! ***

Monday, 16 July 2012

Varese Week One

One week down.... One week to go.

Our first week in Varese has seen us battered and bruised. Our sessions have been extremely hard, with little down time during the day. Blue skies and good weather has helped us keep a positive attitude. We have also had the opportunity to catch up with some other sports (such as rowing, sailing and canoe/kayak) to see where they are in their preparation and how everything is going. The ETC ('European Training Center) set up and run by the AIS is fantastic. This training center offers us gym, recovery and treatment facilities, as well as the much needed WiFi. Not to mention its gorgeous lake side location. 

We were lucky to arrive in time to be able to attend a presentation at the ETC. Michael Groom completed the "big five" (five highest mountains in the world) without the assistance of oxygen in 1999.  Four of which he climbed without the front third of both feet. Very inspiring and unbelievable achievements!

Training Pool on the upper right of the park map

With many sessions leaving us crawling out of the pool totally exhausted we welcomed our day off on Sunday (15th). This gave us the opportunity to take in some rays and satisfy our various shopping addictions in town. Perhaps a coffee or gelati was on the menu as well. Varese is situated 55km north of Milan, with a collection of lakes and snow capped mountains separating Italy and Switzerland. Cobbled stone streets and colourful building in the city center, provided the perfect back drop for our rest day. 

But all good things must come to an end. Monday is here and its right back into another hard week of training. It will be our last week before flying off to London.  

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Can You Feel The Heat

First stop on our road to London sees us landing in Tivat, Montenegro after an excessive amount of traveling. Singapore to Frankfurt to Belgrade to Tivat, with a 8 hour stopover in Frankfurt. There’s nothing like setting up a trolley bag camp in the middle of a busy airport. Upon finally landing in Tivat we were welcome by a gust of hot air and a setting sun over the majestic landscape. After spending 3 weeks in China and 2 weeks in freezing Canberra this was a welcome backdrop to our upcoming training camp.

With the mercury getting up well into the late 30’s it was needless to say we were very glad to be staying by the water. With everything at our fingertips we headed into a hard week of training, which included 3 training games against a junior Montenegro boys team. Needless to say these boys definitely gave us a run for our money. The games were fast paced they weren’t backing down, but then neither were we. During this week we had one day to take part in the tourist side of things, with only weights to be completed that morning.

A boat tour was organised, which included trips to places like the Blue Grotto and the Kanli Kula fortress just to name a few (pic of map). While stocking up on vitamin D we were able to relax and have some fun including a relaxing dip in the Adriatic Sea. The water was warm and a beautiful clear blue. Absolutely amazing! From 9am till 8pm we were out in the 38 degree heat doing the ‘tourist’ thing, enjoying what Montenegro had to offer. But at the end of the day we were all worn out and ready for some zzzz’s.

More days of hard training, clear skies and scorching heat followed. But none of us were complaining, as majority of our tours don’t find us staying on the water in a ‘resort’ type village. We were living it up. The week came to an end, we packed up all our gear and ventured onwards to Italy, Verese, inching ever closer to our Olympic destination. 

Thanks for the photos team.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Last Two Weeks...

The last two weeks have been crazy, with the team announcement, health scares and plenty of media hype. After returning from China, we had a week at home in which we were finally going to find out who would make the cut for the Games. Although it was supposed to a restful week it was difficult to be restful when you are waiting for you future to be decided by a phone call.

Only three long days before the team was finally announced and although we had to wait a couple of days for everything to be official. It was very exciting to let friends and family know that the team was finally announced and they could openly plan their trips overseas. A few days of quietly celebrating and then to Canberra to start the final preparation phase.

Two weeks of team building and hard training was interrupted with a Whooping cough health scare. After a positive result for the 'Whoop' everyone had to be tested and isolated. Although only a few showed symptoms none returned a positive result and one positive who was asymptomatic (no symptoms). Although this health scare definitely got us more media then we were expecting, we were more concerned about how it would affect our preparations. (Article in The Age Whooping cough scare hits team )

However, our team proved to be both strong and resilient helping us continue on with our preparation for the Games. After finishing out our two weeks, we headed home to our respective states for our last week before flying off for our final leg. With a quick day trip to Melbourne for the National League Tigers Dinner and a quick catch up with some of the girls, coaches and club members. To top it all off a fantastic breakfast at the South Melbourne restaurant Chez Dre. 

Yumm...  the french toast is fantastic!

Headed back to Brisbane to unpack, wash and repack for the tour to Montenegro and Italy before arriving in London. Was able to catch up with a friend for her 26th Birthday. Happy Birthday Rach!!! As well as my sisters boyfriend's 30th. Happy Birthday Dan! With my little sister leaving for New York today, my brother Tom and his girlfriend Jill leaving for Hong Kong on Monday and my other brother Hamish heading overseas on Tuesday. Before they all meet up together in Paris, then head to London.

So for now I am going to enjoy some quite time at home while getting ready for the next tour and of course training.

Thanks for the photos soph!