GERRINGONG’S Grace Stewart admits a desire to take out her Olympics frustrations on rivals at this year’s Junior World Cup.
The Hockeyroos and Australia’s men’s team, the Kookaburras, were left reeling after quarter-final exits, their worst Games result in decades.
At 19, Stewart hopes to have another shot at an Olympics medal in Tokyo in four years, but her short-term focus is squarely on the junior titles, where the Aussies are grouped with South Africa, England and hosts Chile.
England’s senior women, as part of Great Britain, won gold in Rio, while silver medallists the Netherlands and bronze medallists Germany also have squad members at the elite junior tournament, starting in November.
“I definitely want a bit of revenge on those countries that beat us (in Rio),” Stewart said.
“But it’s important we go well for Australian hockey.
“I’ve got lots I want to work on, I think coming out of the Olympics, I realise, there’s a lot I’ve got improve on.
“So I’ll be working hard for the next four years.”
The Hockeyroos finished third in their group in Rio, before being knocked out with a 4-2 loss to New Zealand.
It was the final act in Albion Park three-time Olympian Casey Sablowski’s international career.
Like Stewart, Sablowski also made her Games debut as a teenager, eight years ago in Beijing. The young Hockeyroos attacking weapon said Sablowski’s career is an inspiration.
“I have always looked up to Casey and playing alongside her is pretty amazing,” she said. “You look at what she’s done and it makes you aim to be someone like her.”
Stewart is set to be part of a signifcant shake-up for the Hockeyroos, after coach Adam Commens ended his tenure in charge.
Commens had steered the women’s team through two Olympics but had long planned to finish up after Rio.
“The biggest thing for me is our coach kept saying, ‘learn from this’,” Stewart said.
“Remember this for the next four years as you’re training, because this is what will drive you to go better.
“We didn’t win a medal, but the experiences that I got and what I learned is pretty important for me.”
The Junior World Cup starts on November 25 (AEST), with Australia’s first game against South Africa.
Stewart will be part of the Illawarra contingent celebrated as part of the Australian Olympics team in Rio. A ceremony will be held at Wollongong Central’s stage area on Crown Street on Saturday at 10am.
ILLAWARRA OLYMPIANS CEREMONY
Saturday, Wollongong Central stage (10am)