Hockey: Flynn awaiting judgment day

By Kelly Exelby

Gemma Flynn's nervous wait will end on Thursday morning but it is what she will say to her Black Sticks teammates who miss out on selection for the London Olympics that she's really wrestling with.

Flynn chose her words carefully yesterday when asked about making coach Mark Hager's final cut for London, saying nothing's guaranteed, although with almost 110 international caps and twice being named in the world All Stars line-up, she's as sure a bet as they get to be winging her way to her second Olympic Games next month.

But the 22-year-old midfielder, who was back at her old school - Tauranga Intermediate - yesterday as part of Hockey New Zealand's pre-Olympic festival days held in 13 towns throughout the country, conceded it would be a shock if her name was not on the list of 16 on Thursday (the team will be officially unveiled 24 hours later).

"I think I've done enough, I hope so - I've been training hard for four years so hopefully. But it's still a nervous week because you never know with Mark, he's the kind of guy who doesn't give much away and you never feel comfortable, not knowing what he's thinking.

"That's the culture he's instilled so it's going to be a long week waiting for 11am on Thursday, but there's nothing I can do now but sit and wait."

Flynn has a psychology exam to sit extramurally today and will carry on with her individual strength and fitness work in anticipation of getting selected by Hager.

Apart from co-captains Kayla Sharland and Emily Naylor, it was unlikely any of her teammates would sleep particularly comfortably in the next few nights, Flynn said.

She knows the drill - she was the bolter in the women's squad for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, displacing close friend, flatmate and fellow teenage striker Charlotte Harrison.

It wasn't an easy time for the pair.

"I can only imagine that for players who don't see their names on the list it is going to be gut-wrenching because I've seen others go through it.

"I've been lucky enough to have been on the right side of the email so far but to miss out, having given such a huge part of your life to it for so long, would be tough.

"It's hard to know what to say or do in that situation.

"I remember with Charlotte, I really didn't know what to say or do, so probably a text is the best thing, then give them a bit of time.

"If I was in that situation, space to gather my thoughts would be good so I could be with family and friends."

Flynn wasn't part of the festival day in Tauranga, with Hager insisting players with university exam commitments not overload themselves.

But as a past student of Tauranga Intermediate and with her mum Michelle a teacher there, she didn't take much coercing, leaving Black Sticks striker Cat Finlayson to take care of the afternoon session at Blake Park while she hit the books.

Fresh off a series loss to Korea, where Hager experimented with combinations in what was effectively an Olympic trial, Flynn said once-picked, the Black Sticks were not going to London to make up the numbers.

"We've all trained hard and done everything to set ourselves up for a medal. Last year's bronze at the Champions Trophy proved to us we belong in that top tier, and although we've got a tough pool we can set ourselves up for a semifinal spot if we can get through that."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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