Australia look to end 20-year Olympic medal drought
The Australia’s national women’s hockey team, nicknamed the Hockeyroos, have been absent from the podium for the last four Olympic Games but come Tokyo 2020, co-captain Emily Chalker (nee Smith) is hoping to have a medal hanging around her neck.
Australia have not made it past the quarter-final stages at an Olympic Games since Sydney 2000 with their best performance coming in Rio de Janeiro three years ago.
“Obviously we set our goals high, we want to be on that podium,” Chalker said
“We work very hard to ensure that we give ourselves the best chance but we're coming up against some of the world's best teams and we're going to have to be on our A-game to win an Olympic medal.”
The Hockeyroos have been competing at the READY STEADY TOKYO Hockey Test Event during the past week alongside hosts Japan, India and China.
The event saw Australia come away with a bronze medal after two draws and a loss in the pool matches before a 3-1 win in the third-place play-off against China.
Despite the result, the competition gave the side invaluable preparation heading into the Oceania Cup against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand next month.
The tournament will double as an Olympic qualifier for the two rival nations with the test event in Tokyo giving Australia good preparation.
“This test event has been invaluable for our team, obviously to get us playing together getting some high-quality matches, but also in a year's time to have some experience on the Olympic pitch is going to be extremely valuable,” Chalker said.
The world no.2’s will be looking to continue their dominance in the tournament having come away with gold in the last three Oceania Cups since 2013.
“Obviously we set our goals high, we want to be on that podium” - Emily Chalker
However, recent results make it hard to separate these two old foes, proving it comes down to how teams play on the day. Of their last two meetings, which came earlier this year, New Zealand and Australia have both had wins.
Chalker is a veteran of the Hockeyroos team playing in two previous Olympic Games. Her first Games came at London 2012, where she was a bright bushy-eyed teenager who has gone on to wear the green and gold over 233 times for her country.
So, the 27-year-old knows come next July and August, she could be representing Australia for the last time at an Olympics.
“I guess in London, I had no expectations,” she said.
“I was very new to the squad and just played with a bit of freedom and I hope to go out that way.
“Tokyo possibly could be my last games and for me to just go out there and do what I love, which is play hockey and release that pressure on me.
“That's the best thing I can do for the team and give us the best chance of success.”