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Each day more inspirational for hockey star Knowles

4 August 2016

RIO 2016: When you have already won an Olympic gold and two bronze medals, not to mention two World Cup titles and three Commonwealth Games golds, you could perhaps be forgiven for thinking you’d experienced it all.

Not so for Mark Knowles, captain of the Australian men’s hockey team, who on Wednesday enjoyed an inspirational day as he joined Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller, to welcome Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC, to the Olympic Village.

Knowles, competing in his fourth Olympic Games, then joined hundreds of Australian teammates for the final INSPIRE session, where athletes, coaches and support staff were treated to truly stirring speeches from the Governor General, Chiller and Opening Ceremony flag bearer and team captain, Anna Meares.

“It was amazing just to be there to welcome the Governor General with Kitty,” 32-year-old Knowles said.

Rowing pictogram

“I’m honoured to be a hockey player and invited to do something that special. I felt a great sense of pride through it.

“For Kitty, as the Chef de Mission, to ask me to do that, I thought to myself ‘that’s really cool to be part of Team Australia’.”

And things only got more special for Knowles as he watched fellow Rockhampton local Meares address her Australian teammates.

“It was amazing!” he said. “It gave me goosebumps and I’m glad some of the boys were there to watch that and to feel the realness of where we are now.

“We’re three days away from our first game and we’ve milled through a little bit of our first few days, we played a practice game and you can’t quite see the end goal. But watching that, playing our last practice match tonight and our last training session tomorrow, it’s finally starting to feel real and that just gave us a lot of inspiration.

“To see some of those ex-athletes, gold medallists and Australians performing on the world stage – it’s what we want to do. We’re here now, let’s get into it.”

And Knowles said that all of the hard work off the field is also paying off in Rio with a renewed sense of camaraderie and mateship evident around the village.

“One of the things that Kitty said after she took over as Chef de Mission was that she wanted people to say 'g’day', she wanted people to get their heads up and smile at people and show we are a team, no matter what sport we’re from.

“I’ve really felt that over this first eight or nine days in the village. We’re about supporting other sports and other athletes and hopefully they jump on the back of the hockey teams, as well.”

The Australian men’s hockey team begins its Olympic Games campaign on Saturday against New Zealand at 1:30pm Rio time (AEST: Sunday 2:30am).

Lawrence West


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