Seasoned Black Sticks Women’s striker Gemma Flynn, 22, is feeling a lot calmer going into the London Olympics than before Beijing four years ago.
“I’m excited but am not so carried away with the big hype of the Olympics – it’s more about getting the job done this time – focusing on the job at hand.”
Black Stick and Midlands player Gemma Flynn is determined to bring home an Olympic Games medal. Photo by Tracy Hardy.
Before flying out for a pre-Olympic tournament in Germany on Monday, Gemma and the three other Beijing veterans discussed their Olympic experiences to help everyone prepare.
Despite her experience, Gemma just sees herself as ‘one of the girls’, saying they all want to help each other do their best.
Gemma got her first taste of hockey playing with a ‘cut-down stick’ as a four-year-old in Tauranga, following her mother into the game. The naturally-talented athlete combined places in both hockey and soccer 1st IX teams throughout secondary school – but making the national under-16 team saw her focus her attention on hockey.
Since joining the Black Sticks in 2008 Gemma has collected 109 caps and had a series of career highlights, including taking third place at the top-eight nation Champions Trophy in Amsterdam last year. But Gemma is now completely focused on the big goal of winning an Olympic medal.
“We are sixth in the world. We are an outside chance. We obviously have to play to our full potential and the stars have to align a bit as well. But in our pool we have beaten everyone before at different stages and I think we are definitely on the right road.”
Looking back she believes her success in the game has been helped with good support from family, friends and coaches, along with her family’s competitive spirit – which saw her regularly battling her brothers and parents in table tennis and backyard soccer.
Gemma, who remembers catching the Olympic dream when she watched the Sydney games, also says players need to have strong drive to make the top. Her advice to young players wanting to get ahead is to enjoy the game while putting in extra effort, a tip she shared when running a clinic for school players at Tauranga Intermediate School last month.
“Nothing that is worth fighting for is ever that easy, so you’ve got to do extra work.”