The Aussie Spirit are one step closer to Tokyo 2020 having departed Australia today for their final camp in Ota City, Japan.
A squad of 23 are vying for selection to a final team of 15 who will endeavour to keep the Aussie Spirit’s enviable record of medalling at every Olympic appearance intact when competition gets underway on 21 July.
Such is the profile of softball in Japan, Australia officially open Olympic competition when they take on the host nation at 9:00am local time, two days prior to the Opening Ceremony.
The squad will prepare by playing a series of games against professional Japanese softball clubs as well as two games against the Japan National Team, invaluable preparation for a group that hasn’t played an international opponent since February 2020.
“We’ve done so much training over the last year, we’ve had intra-squad camps against one another, now we finally get to play some really tough competition against Japanese Clubs,” said Jade Wall, a member of the squad vying for her first Olympic appearance.
“At the moment that’s our main focus, and we can’t wait to get there.”
Softball Australia Chief Executive Officer David Pryles says the group travelling to Japan will be taking the utmost care in regards to keeping themselves and the people of Ota City safe in a trying environment.
“All staff and players heading to Japan today are fully vaccinated thanks to the Australian Olympic Committee,” said Pryles.
“They’ll also be undergoing stringent testing and checks as soon as they land at the airport and throughout their camp and Olympic fixtures.
“Movements in Japan are restricted to the one level of the team hotel in Ota where they will complete gym work, meetings, meals and of course relaxing amongst themselves.
“We’re incredibly grateful the people of Ota City and their government for hosting the squad who will respect the restrictions placed upon us.”
Softball Australia will celebrate the connection of the squad to their home States, Clubs and Associations encouraging the softball community to get behind their local heroes.
“We’re looking forward to acknowledging our Aussie Spirit squad’s connection to their home States, Clubs and Associations, and recognising the hard work that our grassroots volunteers play in developing our terrific athletes,” added Pryles.
“It’s an important link for us in building our future Olympians profile within the sport and celebrating their achievements here in Australia.
“I look forward to seeing all the support from our community and sharing that with the squad whilst they are far from home at the Olympics.”
Given the restrictions on international fans at this year’s Olympics, Clubs and Associations are encouraged to host their own Live Sites to support the Aussie Spirit from afar.
Those interested should contact their relevant Member State/Territory or register at Olympics.com.au/Olympics-live.
Softball Australia will send more information on Olympics Live / Viewing events as it becomes available from the Australian Olympic Committee.
The full squad includes:
- Janice Blackman, Qld
- Michelle Cox, NSW
- Chelsea Forkin, Qld
- Leigh Godfrey, WA
- Georgia Hood, SA
- Shannon Keevers, NSW
- Rachel Lack, NSW
- Stacey McManus, NSW
- Tahli Moore, NSW
- Kaia Parnaby, NSW
- Leah Parry, WA
- Gabbie Plain, NSW
- Stacey Porter, NSW
- Ellen Roberts, NSW
- Chelsea Robinson, SA
- Justine Smethurst, Qld
- Tarni Stepto, NSW
- Bree Trim, Vic
- Taylah Tsitsikronis, NSW
- Jade Wall, Qld
- Clare Warwick, ACT
- Belinda White, SA
- Tamieka Whitefield, Qld