Ipswich’s Olympic hopeful Jordyn Holzberger challenges strongly for the ball while representing Australia against Korea earlier this year.
Ipswich’s Olympic hopeful Jordyn Holzberger challenges strongly for the ball while representing Australia against Korea earlier this year. Contributed

Games beckon

"KEEP doing what you're doing and enjoy the experience".

That's the simple advice Ipswich regional coaching director Neil Shearer offers Ipswich hockey teenager Jordyn Holzberger as she moves within striking distance of London Olympic selection.

Holzberger, 18, was named in the latest Australian Hockeyroos squad heading to Europe on Monday.

The squad of 20 will compete in the London Cup between June 5-10, becoming familiar with the Olympic venue. The Hockeyroos will also play Test matches against Great Britain and Germany.

The tour will be the final chance for players like Holzberger to make the Olympic team being named on June 17.

Speaking from her Perth base, the Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder was thrilled about her latest opportunity.

"Hopefully I can just go over there and play my game and see what happens from there," the Hancocks player said.

"I haven't got nervous yet. Maybe when we are there.

"I'm just taking it in my stride and trying to prepare as well as I can."

The Ipswich product has lined up in 12 internationals after playing in all but one of Australia's matches in recent tournaments in New Zealand.

That came after the Queensland Scorchers player made her debut against Korea in March.

Happy with her overseas form, the striker returned to Perth for up to six hours of intense training a day in the lead-up to the Games.

"The training has ramped up a lot," she said.

"We have a lot more fitness and running and it's a lot more competitive so it's really exciting. It's fun."

Holzberger is making her second trip to London having represented the Australian Schoolgirls under-16 side in England a few years ago.

Her latest tour however is the most important of her career with an Olympic spot on the line.

Experienced coach Shearer said Holzberger had been doing all the right things and "hopefully the nerves won't get the better of her now being so close".

Shearer has inside knowledge of what it takes to make the Olympics having worked with Australian Kookaburras players like Mark Knowles, Jamie Dwyer and Matt Gohdes during his coaching days in Rockhampton.

Athens 2004 Olympian Knowles had a similar journey to Holzberger, leaving Rockhampton aged 17 to chase his hockey dream in Brisbane and Perth.

Holzberger is the youngest player in the AIS program, having left Ipswich last year to fast track her international rise.

"It helps you become a better person on and off the field," Shearer said of players leaving their comfort zone.

Shearer believes Holzberger can add zest to the current Hockeyroos team, like Knowles did with the Kookaburras.

"When Mark Knowles went to Athens he was the young person of the team and those young ones help add enthusiasm to the more established senior players," Shearer said.

"I've always believed that you've got to have those types of people there (for major tournaments)."



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