Renee's ready for Paris

Published 10:00am 9 July 2024

Renee's ready for Paris
Words by Nick Crockford

Renee Taylor, the former Redcliffe Hockey Club junior, says the Paris Olympic Games  are "going to be something else!”

The 27-year-old midfielder is preparing for her second Olympics as an experienced member (125 caps, 15 goals) of the Hockeyroos’ squad.

Originally from Everton Park, Taylor helped Australia to the quarter-finals – where they lost 1-0 to India – in Tokyo three years ago.

Strict regulations were in force after COVID meaning few spectators were allowed in the Japanese Olympic venues, including hockey.

But doors are wide open in Paris (July 26-August 11) and Taylor will pull on the green and gold with a sizeable contingent of her family in the stands.

“It’s really exciting,” she said from Perth, where the Hockeyroos are based, “we have a great squad with a good mix of experience and youth.

“Of course we want to go there and win gold, but it’s important we do not get too far ahead of ourselves. Just take it one game at a time.”

The Hockeyroos are putting the finishing touches on their preparations in West Australia with games against an Australia A side.

They then fly to France for the opening Pool B game against South Africa on July 28, before facing Britain (July 29), USA (July 31), Argentina (August 1) and Spain (August 3).

Four of the six nations go into the quarter-finals (August 5) with four from Pool A. Semi-finals are on August 7 and the bronze and gold medal finals August 9.

Matches are at the Yves-du-Manoir Stadium, the main arena for the 1924 Olympics and the only French venue to be used in two Games.

Australia start Pool B ranked fifth in the world with only Argentina (2) above them. Britain (6), Spain (7), USA (13) and South Africa (18) are all below.

However, Taylor warned: “It’s such a tough competition. You could throw a blanket over the teams ranked 2-10. Whoever face will be tough. We have to turn up in every game.”

The Hockeyroos will draw confidence from recent FIH Pro-League matches against Argentina where they bounced back from a 5-0 defeat to win 1-0 two days later. They also beat Britain 3-2 in London.

“That is something we can work with,” Taylor said, “but not rely on in an Olympic competition.”

The Hockeyroos qualified last year and 16 players chosen for the Olympic squad were emailed two weeks ago saying they had been nominated.

But, selections were only confirmed and announced by the Australian Olympic Committee on July 1.

Three years ago, Taylor was doing housework at the time the selection email was due to arrive. This year she was planning a holiday!

It was, however, reward for three challenging years. In 2021, after Tokyo, Taylor had hip surgery and further injuries saw her miss every JDH Hockey One (national league) season.

“They were probably the result of pushing through the international program,” she said, “but we got it right and I’ve been working on fitness. You can never be too fit!”

Taylor played two seasons with Redcliffe’s Under 11s, when her mum was in the club’s Division Three side and later moved to Commercial at Kedron Wavell.

She made her Hockeyroos debut in 2015, joined the national squad in 2016 and won silver at the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as bronze in the 2022 World Cup.

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