Law and Arts student Pippa Hayward arrived in Rio de Janeiro this week with only one goal on her mind for her maiden Olympics.
“We’re going for gold.”
As part of the Black Sticks women’s hockey team, she says the team is focused on reaching the podium.
“We’re ranked fourth in the world after The Netherlands, Argentina and Australia, so if we don’t medal we’ll walk away very disappointed,” she says.
Pippa started her studies at the University of Canterbury, moving to Auckland and the University upon her selection to the Black Sticks in late 2012.
“It was the right time for a change. Looking back it was a good move for my studies – I was a bit of a cruisy student in Canterbury.”
Studying part-time has allowed her to concentrate on developing as a player and prepare for the biggest tournament of her life.
“My lecturers have all been really good and flexible in allowing extensions and changing exam dates if I’m going to be away for hockey, particularly the law department.
“My hockey schedule is unpredictable and we often have tournaments during exam time so it’s too hard at the moment to try and fit in studying full time.”
With the possibility of playing eight games in 12 days, Pippa and the team are prepared for a testing tournament.
“It’s going to be pretty full-on, especially because it’s the top 12 teams in the world, so there are not going to be any easy games.”
Prior to heading to Rio, the team wrapped up a training camp in Auckland, before heading to Buenos Aires to face Argentina in two practice games, drawing the first and winning the second.
The team’s Olympic campaign starts on Monday 8 August when they take on Korea in the first game of pool play at 1am NZT.