A lifetime of waiting is nearly over for Susannah Townsend as she prepares to make her first appearance at an Olympic Games.
Canterbury hockey star Townsend, who turned 27 last Friday, the day after flying out to Rio, was omitted from the final GB squad for London 2012 and says the feeling when she lines up in the tunnel ahead of the opening game against Australia late on Saturday night (12.30am BST) will be one of the most special in her lifetime.
The midfield dynamo said: “I’m genuinely very excited. I’m literally just a hockey player who wants to get there, represent Great Britain and experience an Olympics which I haven’t done before.
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“I wasn’t ready to go to London and I have learned a lot of lessons since then.
“It’s been a longer wait for me but now I’m going into this Olympics definitely ready. Not to say that my hunger is more but I am excited to get there and actually be there and play and see what it’s about because I obviously don’t know.
“I’m most looking forward to the feeling I’ll have in the tunnel before the first game – it’s a big first game against Australia, which is a good thing. That feeling will probably be like nothing else I ever experience.”
“I think I have got more to come. I definitely am still improving. I want to get better. The stuff that I had to work on after London I have done and it’s still improving. There’s stuff I’m still learning about myself with every single game.
“With age you’re maturing and I take the knocks and criticism a bit better and I am able to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully I can continue to improve."
Britain’s women claimed bronze in the home Games but Townsend has loftier ambitions this time around, claiming: “We’re going there to win a gold. I think we have consistently shown, especially the past two years, that we can compete with the best in the world.
"We have to get to the quarter-final. From there you take it game by game, hope to perform well and bring home a gold because that’s the aim.”
The other games see GB take on India on Monday (10pm BST), Argentina on Wednesday (5.30pm), Japan next Thursday night (12.30am) and the USA on Saturday week (10pm).
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