StagTracks

A first-person account of Stags Athletics!

Michael O’Keeffe – Olympic Blog

A photo of the pitch in Japan where Michael O'Keeffe received his first U23 international 'cap'.

Olympic Blog – Welcome To London!

Our tour of Asia is complete and we are rewarded with one day to soak up the Olympic village before we head to Austria for our final warm-up match.

Despite a 2-1 loss to Korea Republic, it was an improved performance from the Japan game as we continue to get used to each other and the style of play we have adopted.

The feeling amongst the team on the field is growing in confidence as we are beginning to become more comfortable with each other and understand combinations up and down the pitch.

That confidence on the field transpires off the field also, with a bit more banter flying around at the dinner table.

Our first taste of the Olympics was yesterday as we arrived to the Olympic village for a day off training to relax our bodies and soak up the atmosphere.

Although there were not a lot of athletes here yet, going into the Olympic dining hall (where the McDonalds is free!) and arriving to New Zealand’s building, welcomed by a haka [a version of the traditional haka performed by sports teams, especially the New Zealand rugby team], was an extremely proud feeling.

Knowing that you are now part of a small group of athletes (a little over 1000) to represent New Zealand at an Olympic games and be part of such a prestigious club is very humbling.

We were officially welcomed by the chief de commission Dave Currie and presented with our own pounamu – a greenstone native to New Zealand.

Following the official welcome and tour of the building came the time that every athlete looks forward to – kit allocation.

I was 5 years old again and it was Christmas as we got into our huge bag full of gear. Shirts, shorts, tracksuits, jerseys, jandals [a trademark for an open sandal that has a narrow strap between the big toe and the other toes], shoes, speakers, hats, singlets, the works; no matter how old you get, kit-day is always the most exciting.

We are just hanging around the village today, looking at some of the stadiums, a bit of shopping at the Westfield Mall, and trying to stay away from the ever so tempting McDonalds.

We leave for Austria tomorrow for one final game against the United Arab Emirates, before we head to Coventry where we will be based for a week and with the arrival of recent All-White captain Tommy Smith, the team is complete and rearing to go.

Let the Games begin!

Cheers,

Michael O’Keeffe

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