Renee Taylor, a former Redcliffe Leagues Hockey Club junior, believes pushing the 2020 Olympic Games back a year, due to COVID, back may work in the Hockeyroos’ favour.

The 25-year-old will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo next month - one of Australia's eight debutants, seven dual Olympians and one who is going to her third Games - after an extra 12 months' preparation.

Taylor will plenty of support from the peninsula having played two seasons in Redcliffe's Under 11 teams at a time when her mum was in the club’s Division Three side.

National squad

After Redcliffe, Taylor moved to Kedron Wavell and then Commercial, won the first of 85 Hockeyroos caps in 2015, joined the national squad in 2016 and won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Despite being in Perth for five years, Taylor still goes back to the Redcliffe club - which sends her its best wishes for the Olympics - and surprised some Division Five players last year when turning up for a training session!

With COVID interrupting all hockey, from local leagues to elite levels, the Hockeyroos have only just had their first matches in more than a year - five-game series against New Zealand.

Extra year

During that time the Tokyo Olympics were pushed back 12 months, but Taylor said: “We are quite a young squad so that actually gave us an extra year prepare in training and personally.

“This is an uncertain time with COVID, so we’ve had to set the bar high ourselves. Normally we’d have plenty of games in an Olympic year. The European teams have just played four or five matches.

“People have not seen much of us in the last 18 months. It hasn’t been ideal, but maybe it will work in our favour.”

Spain first

Many of the Hockeyroos, including Taylor, are based in Perth at the sport’s high-performance centre and will fly from there to Darwin for an acclimatisation camp on July 10.

A week later they go to Tokyo for the Olympic tournament from July 24 to August 6. The Hockeyroos’ first game is against Spain on July 25.

Australia is in Pool A with Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, Japan and China. Pool B has Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa. The top four from each group pool go into the knockout quarter-finals.

The Hockeyroos were ranked second in the world behind Netherlands before COVID, but are now fourth. Netherlands are still on top followed by Argentina and Germany.

Team to beat

Taylor said the Dutch are “the team to beat” but she is not looking too far ahead. “I don’t want to get too caught up in the moment,” said the former Everton Park State High School student.

It was much the same when waiting for the announcement of the Hockeyroos’ expanded Olympic squad. An hour from when the selection email was due to arrive, Taylor decided to clean her house.

“My parents were with me and when the time came (to open the email) I gave the mop to my dad,” she said, “then there was an attachment and two Taylors, so I had to scroll across to find out I was one of them!”

The second was Sophie Taylor (no relation) who did not make the Olympic 16.

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