Jade Wall is on the last leg of a long - and at times demanding - journey which has taken her from the softball fields of Redcliffe to the world’s greatest sporting stage.
They were the first Olympic athletes to arrive in Japan and are currently under strict regulations in an Ota City hotel, with regular COVID tests and no travel other than to training and matches.
Fields of dreams
It’s a far cry from the day 12 years ago when Wall first started playing with PCYC Redcliffe at the Boardman Rd fields in Kippa-Ring, but the association remains strong.
Despite now being based in NSW, Wall registers for Redcliffe’s Softball Open Women’s team and the association hopes she will be available for the Queensland titles at Caboolture in October.
But, for now, her sole focus is getting ready for the Olympic Games, training hard and playing multiple matches against Japanese teams before the Spirit squad of 23 is cut to 15 next month.
“We knew it was going to be a long haul and lots of testing,” said Wall, speaking from Japan, “before travelling we had two camps in Australia simulating these conditions.
“It was so once we got here, we’d be more used to it. We’ve played a number of matches against Japanese teams, but planning is just day-to-day at the moment.
“We’ve done so much training over the last year. We’ve had intra-squad camps against one another, now we’re finally playing some tough competition.”
Wall and her Spirit colleagues have a rare opportunity. Softball is back in the Olympics for the first time since 2008, but will not be among the sports at the 2024 Games in Paris.
Tokyo is therefore a long-awaited Olympic debut for many and a final opportunity for some.
It will also be a chance to add the one medal missing from Australia’s softball collection having won bronze-bronze-silver-bronze between 1996 and 2008.
'Here for gold'
The Spirit will open the softball tournament at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on July 21 – two days before the Games’ official opening ceremony.
“It is 13 years since softball was last in the Olympics and only two girls in the (Australian) squad have been there before,” said Wall, who plays outfield.
“I think we are used to having the history behind us and we’ll be using that, for sure. We’re only here for the gold.”
The 32-year-old, who loves surfing, travelled to Tokyo with many essentials, which include a coffee machine!
“I just love coffee and the machine goes with me to every country,” said Wall, whose always puts her left shoe on before the right and touches the grass in the outfield every tie she goes on.
Wall started playing softball at the age of nine with Cheetahs in Hervey Bay before moving south to Deagon, where her family still lives.
The family association with Redcliffe Softball runs deep with Wall’s father being a coach at the club for many years.
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