It’s a dream come true

LONDON’S CALLING: Emily Smith will follow in the footsteps of many from Crookwell and don the green and gold of Australia. Photo: Bronwyn Haynes, Crookwell Gazette. Emily earns Olympic selection… albeit an hour late
Nanjing Night Net

THE computer was turned on, radio purring and television set running in the background.

When news of Emily Smith’s selection in the Hockeyroos Olympic team hadn’t arrived an hour after its deadline, her mother, Venetta, feared the worst. She needn’t have worried.

At 1.03pm on Tuesday, a notification bearing the good news dropped into the Smith family’s email inbox.

The 19-year-old Crookwell hockey ace is off to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The message was greeted with hugs, tears of joy, phone calls and even a bunch of flowers delivered in person to the family’s home. Although the journey to London has been a long one for Smith, who first picked-up a hockey stick at the age of five, it’s gathered pace rapidly since the Oceania Cup in October of last year. Prior, Smith was yet to break into the Australian team and seemed a long-shot to make the Olympic squad. Since her debut, she’s been in irresistible form and was by no means a surprise selection on Tuesday.

The anxious wait for Hockey Australia’s email left a proud mother drained, albeit stoked. “The notification was due to come through at midday. It didn’t come through until after 1, she said.

“It was an anxious wait alright,” Venetta Smith said following her daughter’s selection.

“It’s all pretty exciting. We weren’t sure if the news was going to come via email, or a media release like it did for the men. Just in case we had the TV running as well and we were all huddled around the computer.” The woman-of-the-moment, unlike some in her immediate family, already knew she was off London.

Selectors sent a group email to all 28 players in contention two days’ prior to the public announcement of the team. Those named were required to keep their lips sealed. Those who missed out were given an opportunity to appeal their omission.

Inside knowledge of her inclusion didn’t dampen Tuesday’s intimate moment with family. “She’s always been pretty good, but we never thought we’d have an Olympian on our hands,” Venetta continued.

“Hopefully Ashley [husband] and I and our two oldest children can get over there and support Emily. That’s the plan. Of course, there’s plenty to do before then.” Smith on Wednesday returned to Hockey Australia headquarters in Perth. The ladies depart Australian shores en route to London on July 15.

The three-time Olympic gold medallists head into the Games somewhat of a dark horse. The Hockeyroos haven’t set the world alight in recent times. They won’t, however, be discounted by their opponents.

The Australians will be up against the world’s best outfits, namely the Netherlands, Argentina, Germany and hosts Great Britain.

The Hockeyroos male counterparts, the Kookaburras, meantime received a boost ahead of their departure for the London.

The Kookaburras, whose squad contains local star Glenn Turner, were originally required to play three 8.30am matches – a timeslot that would require players to begin preparations at 5am. Coach Ric Charlesworth successful appealed the decision.

The Australians’ match with Pakistan on August has been moved from 8.30am to 10.45am. The Kookaburras this week head to Cairns for a three Test series with New Zealand, before departing for London on July 18.

Follow @LloydScroope

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