Jan. 15, 2009
SYDNEY - Three members of the national champion Maryland field hockey team - juniors Brianna Davies and Alexis Pappas and sophomore Katie O'Donnell - are spending their winter break in Australia with the United States U-21 team at the 2009 Youth Olympic Festival.
For the three Terps, the event marks an opportunity to get back on the field after winning not only a collegiate national championship in the fall season, but also a gold medal with Team USA at the Junior Pan-American Games in Mexico City in October.
"After winning the gold at the Junior Pan Ams, this team should have a boost of confidence that we didn't posses before," O'Donnell said before traveling to Sydney. "Bri, Lexi, and I have come off a fantastic year after winning gold and the national championship. Hopefully our winning streak continues - not only for Australia but for the big year we have coming up!"
The Festival will pit the American team against squads it has not often played in international competition, including Great Britain and the host Australian team.
"I'm excited to play two new teams that I have never seen before, Australia and Great Britain," Davies said. "I am very excited to get back on the field after winning a national championship. It should be fun and very exciting playing in another country!"
A total of 1,550 athletes from 27 countries will compete across 17 sports at the Youth Olympic Festival. Along with field hockey, other sports contested at the event will be archery, athletics, basketball, canoe/kayak (flatwater, slalom), cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), gymnastics (artistic, rhythmic, trampoline), rowing, shooting, swimming, triathlon, volleyball (beach) and water polo.
"I am very honored to be playing in Australia with the national team," Pappas said. "I really can not wait to keep the gold medal tradition going!"
Team USA has had a tough start to the Festival, falling 4-0 to Australia and 4-1 to Great Britain. The team has a rematch with the host nation on January 17.
For complete coverage of the Festival, fans can visit http://www.olympics.com.au/.