Eastham eager for Hockeyroos to take home gold from Rio
GOLD. That's the colour of success, says Hockeyroos midfielder Casey Eastham and that's the medal she has her sights set on at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
It is the thought of that top-of-the-podium finish that forces her out of bed in the morning, that sees her through a gruelling training schedule and comforts her when injured.
The hard work has already started with the 24-year-old flying out to London with the Australian team this week for the World League competition where a place in next year's World Cup is on the line.
For Eastham, who is returning from a hamstring injury, the tournament will provide the ideal hit out.
"You always feel a bit tentative after injury," she says, "muscular strains and tears aren't so bad, you learn to live with them, but just before the last Olympics I broke my eye socket and was more aware of things like diving at goal."
Australia will have to bring its A game if it intends making any headway in London as competition for places will be tough.
To qualify for the World Cup the Hockeyroos will need to finish in the top three, with the first order of business to perform well in their Pool games against England, South Africa and Spain.
"There is not much separating the top eight teams," said Eastham.
"Anyone can win on a given day, competition is fierce so you really have to turn up to every game and be ready to perform at your best.
"We have a really tough training schedule and a good mix of girls and we have also been working on the mental side of things so we are pretty confident of doing well."
Eastham, a former World Young Player of the Year, played her first senior game for Australia as a 17-year-old in a Four Nations Tournament in the United States.
Since then she has added a couple of Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy medals to the mix and performed with aplomb at the Olympic Games in Beijing and London.
"I think I've changed a lot as I've developed as a player, I look more at short-term goals than always thinking years ahead and that helps keep me mentally fresh," she says.
"Of course I know I won't be playing hockey forever. You feel disappointments a lot more as you get older because the reality starts to dawn on you that you may not have so many campaigns left.
"I still want to be the best player in the world and I still want that gold in Rio so I will continue to do whatever I can to put myself in the best position to get there."
The Hockeyroos will play six warm-up games, Belgium being first cab off the rank on Saturday.
The World League pool games start on June 22.