Aussie softballers show spirit to qualify for Olympics
The nervous wait is over for Australia's national softball team which inlcuded SASI's Belinda White, as it won the Asia/Oceania qualifier last Saturday to grab a berth at the 2020 Tokyo Games
ENERGETIC celebrations and relief followed the Aussie Spirit team when it won the WBSC Asia/Oceania competition in Shanghai, China, last week - earning the team a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Spirit, with SASI's Belinda White a key member as vice captain, stood tall to beat allcomers to win its place. In a do-or-die format only the winner was able to grab a place in Tokyo with the Aussies winning their five games comfortably.
The Aussies had the toughest game against host nation China in the final game, clearing away late to win 9-3 with White scoring a run. The team was unbeaten throughout the competition.
The Spirit will join five other teams from the United States, Italy, Japan, Canada and Mexico in the battle for Tokyo gold.
Qualifying for Tokyo was a big plus as softball had not been in the Olympic program since 2008.
Before the qualifier White was particularly anxious about the team qualifying as she feared she may not realise her dream of competing at an Olympics.
"In any sport the Olympics are the greatest,’’ White said.
“The nerves and pressure will be there and knowing that as a team we had to win it to make it to the Olympics will always be there.
"I have been playing with this core group for about eight or nine years. With no softball at the 2024 Olympics (France) I don’t think I will be still playing after that in 2028 (Los Angeles). But the younger ones will still have a chance.’’
Australia will be aiming for a medal in Tokyo. It has won medals at each Olympics since the sport was introduced to the Games' calendar in 1996 with three bronze medals and a silver in 2004.
The Olympic softball program will begin in Tokyo next year two days before the opening ceremony on July 22.
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